Brownwood’s two major radio stations will host the 11th annual Two-Stepping for Toys drive on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
KOXE will be collecting toys next to its location at 300 Carnegie, while Wendlee Broadcasting will use the former Bank of America parking lot, next to Trans Texas Tire, for its event. This year’s drive will be the first without event founder Brian Wade, who passed away unexpectedly last month. Wendlee has renamed its event Brian Wade’s Toys for Kids Drive in his memory.
All donations will go directly to the Brown County Toys for Kids program.
Wade’s morning show cohost Leland Acker will be helping with the drive this year. “We’ll be broadcasting live from 10 to 5,” Acker said.
He said the stations partnered with area businesses, which collect toys through the month of December and sign up for hourlong time slots for Wednesday’s drive. “Then when we have the toy drive … each of these businesses will bring the toys they’ve collected to the toy drive and we’ll collect them all together. At the same time, we’ll be collecting toys from the general public.”
The drives will also accept monetary donations. All donated toys should be new and unwrapped.
The toy drive also coincides with the last day of registration for families to receive gifts from Toys for Kids. “If you’ve got a kid who needs to sign up,” Acker said, “you can go by Grand Starz at 2323 Belle Plain. All you need is your photo identification and the child’s social security card.”
Wanda Martin operates Grand Starz and runs the Toys for Kids program with her family. On Saturday, her venue will transform into a Christmas factory to rival the North Pole, as dozens of volunteers wrap and give away thousands of gifts to hundreds of Brown County families.
She said Toys for Kids was still looking for volunteers for Saturday. She said those who want to donate toys on Wednesday might focus on 8 to 12 year olds when they buy.
“That’s a huge need now,” Martin said. She also said the program could use more soccer balls, basketballs and volleyballs.
Martin mentioned that although all donated toys had to be new and unwrapped, the program did make an exception for electronics—specifically video games. “If people are getting new games, and they’re tired of their old games, we’d love to take those,” Martin said. “And the families would be glad to get them.”
Over at KOXE, morning show host Carl Wayne helps plan the Two-Stepping for Toys event each year. He praised the businesses that helped the toy drive each year. “I can’t say how much we appreciate all these [businesses] that are drop-off locations,” he said. “Some of them bring bunches of toys. Last year we collected over 1,700 toys … and $8,000 in cash.”
Wayne said the gifts piled so high by late afternoon that they practically engulfed the lion statue that sits in front of the station building. “I think this year’s going to be even bigger,” he said.
At 5 p.m., both stations load up their toys and drive them to Grand Starz. “It’s amazing what they do,” Wayne said of Toys for Kids. “They’re a fantastic organization.”
At Wendlee, Acker said he was looking forward to this year’s drive. But he said it wouldn’t be the same without his old broadcast partner. “Every year it was something he poured himself into,” Acker said. “He was literally like a kid at Christmas.”