Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ben Jones

There are many organizations throughout our community that solicit donations during the holiday season to provide assistance to the needy among us.  There was a time in Rochester's history when that effort was managed by one man - Ben Jones.  Jones came to Rochester in 1914 from his native Cincinnati, Ohio, and found a job at Parkedale Biological Farm.  Three years later, he established the Ben Jones Welfare Fund to provide clothes and Christmas gifts to needy children in the area.  He sold newspapers on the street and solicited donations of food and clothing for his annual holiday distributions.  Upon his death in 1956, the Rochester Clarion described Jones' efforts:
For years he carried on this Christmas solicitation for money practically alone, doing acts of charity constantly and making sure no child lacked clothes or food.  At Christmas time he was assisted by committees from local churches in his fundraising newspaper sale to bring a merry Christmas to even the most humble home.
He always said that he was only repaying the kindness that was shown him as a boy in Cincinnati by local charities.

In 1948, the Metropolitan Club joined Jones and established a Goodfellows newspaper sale to boost his charitable fund.  Jones sold papers with the Goodfellows until just before his death, when his health prohibited his participation. Over half a century later, he is still remembered in Rochester for he joy he brought to needy homes for over four decades.

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