MILLERSBURG - For the next few days following Black Friday, Millersburg's radio station, WKLM - 95.3 FM, will be calling on listeners to join in the fight against hunger and raise funds for needy families throughout Holmes County.
Office Manager Matt Croy explained that since 1991, WKLM has been helping raise funds for the Share-A-Christmas program, incorporating local businesses, schools and listeners to raise funds to support needy families in the area.
"This is our 30th year for Share-A-Christmas," Croy said. "From 1991 to now, we're still going strong. There are a lot of people involved with this from local churches to the local schools. That's one of the great things about this project is how it helps out the needy children.
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"The focus has always been the children, but we also have 105 seniors on our list that we can help out," he continued. "All of the money raised stays right here in Holmes County. It's not one of those charities where you don't know where the money is going. It's local people that are running this, and local families here in Holmes County are being helped."
More than 1,300 children received gifts from Share-A-Christmas last year.
How Share-A-Christmas all started
Mike Taylor, one of the original Share-A-Christmas organizers, shared a story about how Share-A-Christmas got started.
"Bill Baker used to do an annual fundraiser with his employees at Multi Products, but one year, 1988, he decided to make it a little broader," Taylor said. "Bill, along with myself, Sam Steimel and John Thern raised funds for eight families from Family Services.
"The next year, he said let's do 100 families," Taylor continued. "Then, in 1991, Mark Lonsinger and the radio station got involved and that allowed us to expand to 300 families. We've helped as many as 325 families in one year, but we're generally in the 200 range, plus we take care of 105 seniors."
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Let the fundraising begin
Croy said the program kicks off on Black Friday and runs as long as it takes to raise the goal, which is usually within a week or so.
"It kind of all depends on how many families we have," Croy said. "It varies from year to year. There is no set amount. It just depends on what the need is. If there is a greater need, we'll take on additional families. We've helped as many as 300 families in the past, but we haven't had that many families the past few years."
He said they plan for 200 to 250 families each year and the 105 seniors.
Daily themes, like East Homes vs. West Holmes
The on-air staff starts at 6 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, doing live broadcasts on the air throughout the day raising funds.
"There have been a number of businesses that have been very generous for us over the years," Croy said. "If an individual wants to give $5, $10, $20 or more, that's great. Generally, businesses donate a little more. We encourage people to call in and pledge and that's what helps carry the project."
Something the radio station has added over the years is bringing guests on air. It also has themes for the various days, like East Holmes Schools vs West Holmes;
"Members of the East Holmes staff will be guests on air during certain hours and the West Holmes staff will be in at different hours, and the goal is to see who raises more money for Share-A-Christmas," Croy said. "Last year we did policemen versus firefighters, and that went really well. We're going to do that again on Wednesday.
"Tuesday, Nov. 30, is 'Giving Tuesday' nationally, and a couple years ago we incorporated that into our Share-A-Christmas, where each hour we had an amount that a business will match," he continued. "If we can raise a certain amount of individual donations in an hour, businesses will match that amount. We've gone up to $1,000 in an hour, where businesses will match that for an additional $1,000. That's been the Giving Tuesday theme."
How to get involved with Share-A-Christmas
Listeners will be invited to call in to pledge their donations. Call 330-674-9530, 330-674-0095 or 330-893-3456 to reach WKLM. Tune in to 95.3 FM for more details.
Share-A-Christmas also has a Facebook page.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Holmes County Share-A-Christmas fundraiser hits the air