University at Buffalo employee Dawn Baumgarten has been hawking Kids Day editions of The Buffalo News for five years at the same corner of Delaware Avenue and Summer Street, yet she never ceases to be amazed at the generosity of passing motorists on their way to work.
“When they stop at a red light, people are pretty willing to roll down their window,” said Baumgarten, director of annual programs at UB’s Office of University Development.
“We’ve had some people who stopped to buy the paper, and they’ll give you a $20 bill and don’t want the change, so people are very generous,” she added.
The News’ 31st annual drive to benefit Women & Children’s Hospital and other charities drew hundreds of volunteers who rose early in the morning and worked in small teams across Western New York, where they sold copies of the paper for $1.
“I haven’t had anyone ask for any change. I got a $20 from someone, and they didn’t even want a paper,” said Mark Russell, a member of Baumgarten’s team who flagged down motorists at the corner of Delaware Avenue and North Street.
Over in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood, just outside the SUNY Buffalo State campus, members of a Iota Phi Theta fraternity and a sister sorority, Omega Phi Beta, also rose early to pitch in.
It was a first-time endeavor for Edward Ogunyemi of Iota Phi Theta as he flagged down motorists on Grant Street near Amherst Street. The freshman, who hails from Brooklyn, said sales of the special edition newspaper were fairly brisk at around 8:30 a.m.
“Me and my brothers have been out here since 6 a.m.,” said Ogunyemi. “This is probably about my third stack.”
About three miles north in the Town of Tonawanda, the pace was no less frenetic as Melody Baldauff worked the median at Sheridan Drive and Military Road.
“We already went through our first 200 papers. We’ve got another 160. I got out here about 5:45 a.m.,” said the town resident.
“I’m just a stay-at-home mom. I buy every year when I see them out, and I said, ‘Gee, I’d really like to do that.’ So I pulled together a group of girls, and they decided to do it with me, and here we are,” Baldauff added.
As motorist Dario Gray approached the southeast corner of Sheridan and Military, an impatient motorist at his rear prevented him from making a stop to purchase a Kids Day paper from Diane Baldauff, Melody’s sister.
Undaunted, Gray, a University Emergency Medical Services employee, turned the corner and pulled into a nearby service station, where Baldauff dashed off to meet him.
“I work with children every day, so I know what the benefits of supporting Kids Day are,” said Gray, a resident of the town, who also works with pediatric patients at Buffalo General Medical Center.
In Batavia, a Kids Day volunteer selling newspapers suffered a broken leg when she was struck by a vehicle at about 8:15 Tuesday morning at Main and Oak streets, police and other authorities reported.
Amber Richmond was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
“She was apparently crossing in the crosswalk,” Batavia Police Officer Eric Hill said. “There was a vehicle in the turning lane blocking her view of the other vehicle, and the driver of the vehicle didn’t see her, either.”
Hill said that police, after initially interviewing witnesses, weren’t sure who was at fault. No charges have been filed.