KOXE/KBWD and Wendlee Broadcasting conducted their annual Christmas toy drives on Wednesday in downtown Brownwood, collecting thousands of dollars and toys for donation to Brown County Toys for Kids.   

The stations collected donations all day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. KOXE set up Two-Stepping for Toys right outside its Carnegie Street offices, while Wendlee held Brian Wade’s Toys for Kids Toy Drive from the former Bank of America parking lot on Main Street.   

The Wendlee drive is named in memory of KXYL personality Brian Wade, who died unexpectedly shortly before last year’s event.   

Wendlee on-air host Leland Acker said the toy drive is one of his favorite days of the year. “We spend so much time ramping up for it, and I’m always nervous when we start,” Acker said. “Right up until the time the broadcast starts, my heart is just racing because I worry. ‘What if we don’t do well this year? What if the donations don’t come in?’ But once it begins, people start driving up and donations start coming in and it turns into a joy at that point.   

“This is way more toys than we got last year,” he said.   

Over at KOXE, morning show co-host Starr said the station had a great turnout. “We just really appreciate all our listeners coming through for us to help the kids of Brown County,” she said. “I love doing Two-Stepping for Toys. It’s fun to help out.”   

All told, Toys for Kids director Wanda Martin said KOXE raised $9,400 and Wendlee pulled in about $7,600 during the drive. KOXE host Carl Wayne told the Bulletin his station collected 1,514 toys and 63 bicycles.    

“In a year that has been hard for many, the community has once again shown how much they care for the kids,” Wayne said in a text message. “Lots of kiddos will enjoy a bright Christmas because of your generosity. A big heart-felt ‘thank you’ to all that came out today!”   

Martin said the event was an “excellent day.” “We got a lot of things we requested, and we thank everyone who participated,” she said.   

On Saturday, Toys for Kids will distribute its gifts to more than 500 families who have signed up to receive donations. From approximately 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Brownwood’s Grand Starz venue will transform into Santa’s warehouse with volunteers wrapping presents and parents picking out toys for their children.   

Martin said there’s still lots of work to do before Saturday’s event, but that Wednesday’s drive was a big help. “So grateful to the people of Brown County that are making all of this possible,” she said in a post on the organization’s Facebook page. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”