In the 40-year history of the Denton State Supported Living Center’s Christmas fundraiser, North Texans have demonstrated that they really care. In its 41st year, the facility, as well as local sponsors, hope to keep the momentum growing with their annual Christmas Is for Caring fundraiser hosted by WBAP-AM (820).
The president of the Volunteer Services Council for Denton State Supported Living Center, Stephanie Kithas, has championed the cause for her entire 21-year career with the center, and this particular fundraiser often helps raise year-round support for the community of individuals with special needs.
“For Christmas Is for Caring 2019, our primary goal is to be able to provide at least two gifts for each of the 470 residents,” Kithas said. “If that goal was met, we would then dare to hope to raise funds for our recreation and enrichment program.”
The recreation and enrichment program covers the cost for other activities throughout the year including live DJ dance parties, birthday parties, lunches and dinners out in the community, music festivals, trips to the State Fair of Texas and Rangers games, to name a few.
Christmas Is for Caring, is a traditional telephone fundraiser. Charitable givers are asked to call into a phone bank at WBAP and pledge to buy gifts or offer monetary donations via credit or debit card to a group of volunteers while personalities at the radio station keep reminding listeners of the cause and the phone number. In fact, the original DJ for the very first fundraiser, Neil Sperry, is still involved.
“The first campaign, called ‘Christmas Is for Kids,’ was hosted by KRLD 1080 AM, with Neil Sperry as the leader,” Kithas said. “I’m told that back then, wives of the Dallas Cowboys volunteered and handled the phone bank. KRLD continued to host the event for many years. As the residents grew older, the campaign remained substantially the same but its name was changed to Christmas Is for Caring, and remains the name today.”
The fundraiser and its benefits would not have ever been possible without the help of the local nonprofit, the Volunteer Services Council, which dedicates its time to raising funds and in-kind goods on behalf of the Denton State Supported Living Center in order to enhance the quality of life for the residents. This is not a job that Kithas takes lightly.
“The first time I experienced the direct results of the drive was when the residents received their gifts from Santa at their big Christmas party,” Kithas said. “They were so excited and happy, and there were lots of residents having a blast dancing in a big crowd. After that first Christmas, it was a real treat throughout the year to be able to fund activities and enriching experiences for the residents. All made possible primarily by the funds raised in that one cold December week.”
According to Kithas, several other businesses and organizations have made it part of their holiday tradition to lend a hand as well, including North Texas Calloway’s Nursery locations, Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, Knights of Columbus Council No. 7641 in Bedford and Top Golf.
Residents at the Denton State Supported Living Center have put together wish lists for anyone who wants to donate. Some of these items include body wash, electric razors, hula hoops and bedding. However, for those who want to help but might be to busy to buy specific items, cash donations go a long way as well.
The Christmas Is for Caring fundraiser starts on Monday, Dec. 9, and runs through Dec. 13 at WBAP. Callers can call the phone bank at 214-525-2550 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. to pledge gifts and donations. For more information, visit the website at www.vscdenton.org.
For Kithas, serving the special needs people of her community comes with the reward of personal fulfillment.
“As an individual, it is an honor to participate in helping to bring Christmas to the residents of DSSLC, and hopefully also raise enough money to enrich their lives throughout the coming year.”