For the past 13 years, KSAM and KHVL have been “Making A Smile Happen” (MASH) by conducting a toy and gift drive for local area families in need. This year, LEAP Ambassadors and Pre-Law Society members were happy to help this worthy cause by volunteering over a two-day period to collect gifts and help market the event.
The drive was undertaken to benefit seven local charities: Good Shepherd Mission, SAAFE House, Santa’s Helpers, Huntsville YMCA, Clayton Sparks Foundation, National Guard Children, and the Rita B. Huff Animal Shelter. The benefits came in the form of cash and gifts–with the latter ranging from toys, bicycles, food, blankets, house-hold items, and pet food.
From a volunteer perspective, it was a rewarding program to be a part of. Our tasks were simple–KSAM and ROTC had done the heavy lifting in setting up tents (ROTC) and organizing the event (KSAM)–(1) promote the event by having a presence along 11th street, with signs,
…(2) assisting generous donors in unloading their gifts into our MASH tents, and (3) occasionally re-organizing the gifts.
The rewards were manifold. The KSAM staff have always been nice to us, and Larry Crippen regularly invites to be part of “Around Town.” But we also had the chance to meet Steve and Dee Everett…
…Bryan Reeder, Steve Rixx, Glenn Edwards, and William Franz. It was a good opportunity to meet some of the folks we hear on-air. Steve Rixx even did a “mock on-air interview” with the students, helping them develop their articulation skills, and teaching them about the radio business.
We also had the chance to meet some community leaders who stopped by to donate or otherwise help promote the event, such as Wayne Scott…
…Chamber of Commerce Director Ray Hernandez…
…even Santa Claus showed up (thank you Krogers and Philip Johnson).
So just from a community education perspective, the event was valuable.
But, of course, the real value was seeing the spirit of giving that pervades the Huntsville community. There were more than 300 donors, and KSAM was able to raise approximately $5,000 in cash and gift card donations, while also bringing in countless gifts….
…especially those for children. The donors represented all walks of life, and many volunteered some variation on the following theme: “I wanted to help, because people helped me.”
That help covered almost all aspects of a what a child could want, but late on Thursday, minutes before the event closed down, we noticed there was no full-size bike, an item specifically requested by one of the charitable organizations with which MASH collaborates. But Joe Chick from Dale’s Auto arrived with 15 minutes to spare, bringing two full-size bikes and, as Dee Everett noted, “instantly made a smile happen.”
Special thanks to Matthew Lahey, who took many of the photos above and generously shared them.