Tom and Marilyn Edwards are modest heroes who never self-promote, but this story needs to be told with bells clanging through every valley and from every mountain top.
Tom Edwards is a newspaper man in the very small town of Bluffton Ohio – a thriving, picturesque place in the nation’s heartland – tucked between Toledo and Dayton, where time stands still. For fifty years, following in the footsteps of his father’s dream, Tom has published two local newspapers – the Bluffton News and the North Baltimore News, one that first came off the press in 1875. For a quarter century, he has also printed, and his wife Marilyn has edited three wonderful children’s publications – Boy’s Quest, Hopscotch for Girls, and Fun for Kidz in a business that they run with their son Jonathan.
The Edward’s have just gifted MagazineLiteracy.org 150,000 copies of their children’s publications – an extraordinary act of kindness comprising their life’s work – that we are going to to put into the hands and homes of tens of thousands of at-risk readers via food banks and Boys & Girls Clubs. The first 1,200 were loaded in my trunk for delivery to the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, the River Food Pantry, the Gerald J. Ryan Outreach Center food pantry on Long Island, and the Madison YWCA for their homeless families program and transitional housing for moms with children. 15,000 copies will go to northwest Ohio Boys & Girls Clubs and food programs to feed children hungry to read, with over 100,000 more going to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. They feed 900,000 people a year – mostly children – in the areas hardest hit by superstorm Sandy. They were all printed on this single press that ran almost every day, where the plates were switched out four times by hand to get the colors set just right.
Yesterday in Bluffton, I had the pleasure of breaking bread with with Tom and Marilyn, a science buff and french horn master, who once helped run an international society of magicians. They told me how they acquired Hopscotch many years ago on a hand shake in a Saratoga Springs, New York kitchen from an elementary school librarian. Marilyn explained how each issue that she creates, which are designed to focus cover-to-cover on a single topic, takes five years to birth.
In an age where bits and bytes whiz by, bombarding our brains from countless devices and directions, this unique format creates timeless treasures that produce an immersive reading experience for young girls and boys.
The periodicals have no advertising, which reminds me of another Midwest magazine media house that Roy Reiman built with Taste of Home and other magazines now published by Reader’s Digest in Milwaukee.
Every wave begins with a ripple, every forest a seed. Tom and Marilyn’s incredible act of kindness underscores that there is a role in this global literacy campaign for every magazine and for every person in every corner of the publishing supply chain, from the mailroom to the boardroom, and from the paper company, printer, and publisher, and supporting businesses to the consumers who love to read and share their favorite magazines for literacy.
Join us to change the world – one magazine, one reader at a time.