Seven Thousand One Hundred –7,100 – requests for toys… Sounds like quite a tall order, and it is. The army of volunteers who will collect, clean, sort, repair if necessary, bag and deliver these toys to the hundreds of schools, churches and service organizations who placed the orders are not daunted. They had filled all 7,100 requests by 11:00 p.m. Sunday.
The toys move with almost military precision through an assortment of tents set up in the parking lot at Post Oak Mall in College Station, which provide plenty of space for the painstaking processes.
First, of course, comes collection as motorists drive up to drop off toys, checks and even cash. No clothing is accepted—just toys. All not in original boxes are cleaned, and all batteries are replaced, used or new. Sorting by age and gender comes next, and then choosing the exact toys to fill each wish list, which was personally created by one specific child.
This wonderful event has been going on for more than thirty years and, for about ten of those years, KEOS has had a huge hand in making it happen. Who calls upon the community to come to the Mall with toys? The DJs from Brazos Valley Communication’s five commercial radio stations: The Texas Country Original KORA 98.3 FM, Radio Alegria KTAM 1240, 101.9 The Beat KBXT, Classic Hits 107.3 KAPN, and ESPN 103.9 KJXJ broadcasting live from the Mall.
Who keeps them on air by running their boards back at the station? KEOS volunteers. Lance Parr, KEOS chief engineer, keeps a watchful eye and does his turn on the boards, as experienced DJs Jay Brakefield, H. Alan Montgomery, Carole Davis-Rios; newly-minted DJs Alex Rubio, Chris Larkin, Nicole Gallucci; and intern Madison Wichterich make sure no dead air happens as programming shifts seamlessly from live to station and back to live. Not as simple as it sounds.
Make*A*Smile*Happen began in 1984. The name, M*A*S*H, and the military theme, are a nod to the TV show of that name on air at that time, which recognized the degree to which military doctors enhanced the well-being of the troops during the Vietnam War. The hope going forward is that RADIO M*A*S*H now can enhance the well-being – and Christmas Cheer – of the Brazos Valley’s most vulnerable children.
Congratulations and thanks to Brazos Valley Communication for spearheading this massive undertaking and to all the volunteers and businesses who give toys, talent, time, batteries, food, advertising and money to make it happen.
And congratulations and thanks to the KEOS volunteers who spend many hours on BVC boards over four long days and still manage to keep their own shows – and KEOS – on air as well.
–Audrey Patton, KEOS Volunteer Reporter