(Seguin) -- Here's proof that the spirit of giving is alive and well in Seguin and Guadalupe County. In just two hours, 7 to 9 a.m., Seguin Radio KWED on Monday collected $8,000 in cash and checks for the Christian Cupboard, Seguin's food pantry and the Seguin Police Department Blue Santa Program.
Also in those two hours early in the morning, 805 pounds of food was collected and three vehicles were loaded to the max with toys and bikes.
The success of this year's food and toy drive, no doubt, was the best on record for KWED. The radio station surpassed last year's drive by almost doubling the money raised. Last year, approximately $4,700 was collected for both organizations.
KWED thanks each and every person who drove by on East Court Street and who donated their change, their dollar or $1,000 check. Every penny goes to a great cause and emphasizes the importance of the Christmas season here in the Seguin community.
Although the Holiday Food and Toy Drive is over, the collection of donations is not. Non-perishable food donations and toys are still needed for both non-profit organizations.
Christian Cupboard Volunteer Kathy Yandell says although the donations during the drive are helpful, the act of giving is vital to the cupboard's year round operation of taking care of families.
"November and December really is our big push to fill the shelves and the warehouse at the Christian Cupboard. So far, we're doing a pretty good job, but there's always room for more. We got plenty of room to store all sorts of things. We need a lot of canned goods, cereals, oatmeal, vermicelli, Fideo, just almost anything that is a non-perishable food we can use at the cupboard. We take cash also. There's never enough cash. We spend about $10 to $12,000 a month buying food for the cupboard. We buy from the San Antonio Food Bank. A lot of people think the food comes free from the San Antonio Food Bank. No, we buy that food. We appreciate the opportunity to have this particular drive, because it's fun," said Yandell.
Seguin Police Officer Hope Vasquez, a.k.a. Blue Santa's Top Elf, says toy donations are needed more than ever especially for the older kids in the community. She says this week is a busy time for Blue Santa as he and his elves ensure something special for kids under the Christmas tree.
"This year, we have 600 applications throughout different agencies accepting them for those families that are in need. Our first wrapping night, we had 146 applications and out of 146, 80 of them are brand new families in our community. That tells a little bit of who is in need and we have a lot of new families here in the community that come in and of course, struggle with moving and new jobs. I'm glad that we have this program to help those families that we might not know of," said Vasquez.
Again Seguin Radio thanks all those who donated and all those who braved the cold weather and volunteered. Dozens of community VIPs were on hand collecting your donations outside the radio station. They included but were not limited to the Seguin Police Department, the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office, the Seguin Fire/EMS Department, Guadalupe County Constables, the city of Seguin, Guadalupe County, the Seguin ISD, the Seguin High School Football Team, the Navarro ISD and the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce.
Seguin Mayor Don Keil says the morning drive shows the "real true community spirit of Seguin."
"We've got so many people out here. They're representing every area of the city and county. We've got our police and fire department here. We've got the city council people here and even the high school folks are out here trying to do good for the community. We're very proud of that," said Keil.
Joining him on the street was Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher. Kutscher says he applauds the collection drive for its reach throughout the county.
"We always have a lot of cooperating from our county staff. We've got our sheriff's department out with the sheriff dressed as Santa this morning. We got two commissioners, Commissioner Shanafelt and Cope, Constable Precinct 2 office, a few other deputies -- really a lot of involvement from the city and county," said Kutscher.
KWED especially thanks the Seguin High School Band and Navarro Jazz Band for providing holiday music during this year's event.
Seguin Band Director Stan Mauldin says there's no better place in the world that he'd rather have his kids especially during this time of year.
"I think our number one thing for our kids to learn is community. We need to give back as much as we can. So we tend to give back quite a bit," said Mauldin.
Joining the holiday drive for the first time is relatively still new Seguin ISD Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez. Dr. Gutierrez says he had an awesome time witnessing the community that exists here in Seguin.
"It's great. It's cold out here, but it's a lot of fun listening to the music and having the opportunity to greet people in the morning. There's a lot of traffic and a lot of excitement here," said Gutierrez.
Navarro Band Director Patrick Todd also applauded the efforts of his jazz band students. Todd says the district is fortunate to have such a great dedicated group of students.
"We've got seventh and eighth graders joining us for the first time for this, as far as I know. We got some talented kids and it's nice to go on ahead and get them started in the jazz band. We've got just the best kids that I could ask for," said Todd.
Navarro ISD Superintendent Dee Carter was also busy taking donations on the street as she supported her students from 8 to 9 a.m. Carter says she is always thrilled to be a part of the event and wouldn't miss it for the world.
"It is very important. We have our own little program run by three of our teachers at Navarro Elementary called Panthers Feeding Panthers. They're sending backpacks home every week for children who may be a little bit food insecure and there are lots of other families who are in need in this whole community. I just love the generous hearts that give, not just today, but on a regular basis in this community. It's the most generous town I've ever known," said Carter.
A pair of organizations also came out to make sizable contributions during this year's drive. The first was the Seguin Parrot Head Club. The group pulled in to the radio station parking lot with a trailer bed full of toys. The American Legion Riders also rolled in on their motorcycles bringing in toys and donating an $1,800 check for the Blue Santa Program.
Several local businesses and organizations also made generous cash donations this year, including Buck Fever, Alamo City Trailers, The Oak, Angel Pest Control, Bling & Company, and Kutscher Earth Hauling Services just to name a few.
"I want to thank all the individuals, companies, or groups that gave in some way today. Seguin is the best place to live. It's an exceptional community that gives and gives and gives," said Darren Dunn, general manager KWED/Seguin Daily News.
Seguin Radio KWED is also extending a thank you to the many sponsors who helped feed students and volunteers. They included Uncle Fry's Tacos and BBQ in Geronimo, Arlan's, Seguin Chevrolet, HEB, Court Street Coffee, Seguin Walmart and the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce.
Again, the radio station extends a thank you to Seguin and Guadalupe County -- $8,000 -- this year's total and newest record for the annual KWED Holiday Food and Toy Drive. Radio station employees are especially pleased of the success after having to postpone the event to Monday because of last week's snowstorm.
Donations will continue to be accepted throughout the rest of this week at the radio station. The radio station is located at 609 E. Court St.