Friday, December 16, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 5

By 1968, changes had taken place regarding the Journal’s charity program. It was now known as Clothe-A-Child. Mary Lee Tucker – the behind the scenes ‘face of the program’ – was still around, but her name was somewhat downplayed in the Clothe-A-Child promotion.

The Journal explained the program in a front page article over the headline in its November 28, 1968 edition. It noted:

“THE CLOTHE-A-CHILD program consists of:

THE TRADITIONAL Mary Lee Tucker Christmas Show, which has been highlight of the holiday season in Lorain.

--CONTRIBUTIONS, which may be sent directly to the Mary Lee Tucker Fund at The Journal, Lorain. Miss Tucker will have special shoppers to take the children shopping in area stores with this money.

--A MILE OF DIMES promotion in downtown Lorain and at various locations around the county, where residents can contribute a dime to help the clothing program.

ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRIES, churches, labor unions, civic clubs, nationality groups, and fraternal organizations will be encouraged to participate in one of the most heart warming parts of the program.

They may want to spend some of their own money to clothe needy school children and may personally take some youngsters shopping for new clothes. It takes approximately $35 to clothe one child.”

The traditional Mary Lee Tucker charity show sponsored by the City Club went on as scheduled that year with a “Christmas Around the World” theme and all local talent. Fifty-three acts with performers “from every part of the Golden Crescent” auditioned. Eighteen acts were selected to perform at the show, which was held on Wednesday, December 4, 1968.

Hoolihan and Big Chuck from Channel 8 served as masters of ceremony.

The Biz Grove Band once again performed. Members included Charles Bisgrove, Ed Zaphor, Merl “Doc” McDonald, Frank Katrick, Charles Ensign, Melvin Gymorie, Kenneth Lorence, Mitch Hallie, Leonard Gerace, Richard Cooley, Dave Noe, Ralph Woerhman, Floyd Hayes, Richard Reed, and Bob Gawne.
The Mary Lee Tucker program clothed more than 300 needy children that year. Mary Lee Tucker herself was quoted on the front page of the Journal on December 24, 1968. She noted, “You just don’t know what it’s like to see kids who never had a pair of new pants walk into a store and get them. I just can’t thank the people enough who helped and contributed. This will be a little better Christmas for many children because of their generosity."
The Journal’s Clothe-A-Child program underwent a big change in 1969. 
That was the year that the charity show apparently became independent of the Mary Lee Tucker name. The benefit show was no longer a component of the Journal’s Clothe-A-Child program. It was now known as the Lorain City Club’s Charity Show.
The Clothe-A-Child program benefitted from the unveiling of an illustration by artist Larry Alvarez that first accompanied the stories that year. The logo did a good job of symbolizing the misery and sadness experienced by a child with no warm winter clothes.

The illustration was used for many years and is still well-remembered by longtime readers of the Lorain Journal.
It is certainly a credit to the Morning Journal that the Mary Lee Tucker program survives to this day.
The Journal's original concept of a newspaper employee devoted to helping the less fortunate in the local community, and known only by her name – Mary Lee Tucker – is a charming and magical one. 
I hope Mary Lee Tucker always has a place at the Morning Journal. She is needed more than ever.
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

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