Thousands of volunteers took to the streets across the San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday morning for the 29th edition of Kids Day, selling special editions of The Bee. Their goal: raise $550,000 for Valley Children’s Hospital.
That would break the record of $545,546.40 collected last year during the Kids Day fundraiser.
Tuesday’s tallied total of $230,000 puts the fundraising campaign well on track to meeting and possibly exceeding this year’s goal, said Molly Marquez, manager of annual development at the Valley Children’s Foundation. The count ceased Tuesday afternoon when the bank closed its doors but will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Marquez said.
“It takes a while to get everything turned in,” she said. “We’ve got everything with the exception of non-Fresno-area schools.” Those contributions will be collected and counted Wednesday, Marquez said.
Kids Day has raised $7.3 million over the past 28 years for the not-for-profit hospital that serves children and patients from an area that covers 11 counties and more than 45,000 square miles.
The Bee and ABC30 joined forces in 1988 to start what would become the annual Kids Day publication to benefit Valley Children’s Hospital. That year, $56,000, a little more than 10 percent of the amount that is the target for this year’s fundraiser, was raised.
Beyond buying a Kids Day paper, there are other ways to help. Text KIDSDAY to 41444 to make a donation or go to the Valley Children’s Hospital website. The text line will remain open through Friday, Marquez said.
Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer once again was a familiar face at Shaw and Blackstone avenues, where he joined Sheriff Margaret Mims and other local leaders selling copies of the special edition.
“This corner has been built up by so many people over the years, and we call it Celebrity Corner,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity” to help the hospital, he added.
The Army ROTC program at Fresno State approached its goal of being the top seller of papers Tuesday as if it were a military campaign. Capt. Jeff Munster, an active-duty artillery officer who teaches cadets at the university, said cadets secured all four prime corners of Herndon and Blackstone avenues Monday night.
Munster, a 14-year veteran who served in Iraq, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, said the team moved in early “to solidify this area. We thought it would be a good producer.” The team hoped to improve from last year; by 8 a.m., $1,000 had been raised.
Another team that mapped out a strategy of being early was the Hooters team at Friant Road and Blackstone Avenue. General Manager John Massicci said several members of his team staked out turf by 11 p.m. Monday. By 7 a.m., several hundred dollars had been raised, and two people had dropped in $100 bills.
In Visalia, Mt. Whitney High students studying medical careers sold Kids Day papers on Mooney Boulevard.
“A lot of people are liking our energy, our dancing,” said Daisy Picazo, 17, a junior. “People give us extra money.”
Golden West High students occupied several corners on Ben Maddox Way.
“It’s been cold, but it’s been fun,” said sophomore Bailey Baxley, 15.
Getting creative boosts sales, students said.
“We’ve been dancing around, trying to get people’s attention,” said Golden West sophomore Peyton Epp, 16.
Jacquelyn Gutierrez, 15, a Golden West junior, said she has participated in Kids Day for three years.
“You have to wake up early, but it’s fun,” she said. Papers cost $1, but “people are nice. A lot of people give me fives instead of ones.”
Students also got a quick lesson in business competition.
“A lot of people drive by and show us their newspaper,” said Joselyn Hernandez, 16, a Golden West sophomore. “They would buy one, but they already bought one.”
Staff writers Jim Guy and Lewis Griswold contributed to this report.