George E. Palmer / Old Newsboys
George E. Palmer
George E. Palmer (1862 - 1944) served Lansing as a truant officer, police officer and superintendent of buildings for the Lansing Public Schools. Beginning in 1900 as a truant officer, Palmer worked with students who were not attending school. He determined that absenteeism was often caused not from disinterest, but because children lacked proper footwear. Around 1910 Palmer founded a charity with his own salary: the next donation was a fifty dollar gift from Metta Olds, wife of auto entreprenaur Ransom Olds. Mrs. Olds later became president of the Palmer Shoe Fund. Schoolchildren also contributed nickels and dimes to purchase shoes for needy schoolmates. Shoes were distributed to children upon the recommendation of teachers.
The Lansing tradition of raising money to provide shoes and boots for needy schoolchildren began around 1910 when truant officer George E. Palmer established the Palmer Shoe Fund. In 1924 the Old Newsboys Association, led by its first president R. Guy Brownson, was organized to assist in the efforts begun by Palmer. The Old Newsboys cooperated with The State Journal and the Lansing Capital News to publish and sell a spoof newspaper during a one-day fund-raising drive. Clergy, educators, businessmen, politicians and other citizens joined in the effort. Since 1932 The State Journal has printed the humorous tabloid annually hawked by Old Newsboys on area streets. During the 1990s the paper's one-day circulation reached over 100,000 copies. The Old Newsboys' mission remains to provide shoes and boots for needy schoolchildren.