Alumni Programs

Alumni-Owned Radio Station Helps Students Return to School in Style

A mountain of school supplies and $12,202 in cash donations – that's what listeners to alumni-owned and operated Mixx 96.1 KXXO radio in Olympia gave to the station's annual "Little Red Schoolhouse Project" this August.

Every bit of this school supplies drive went to support the back-to-school needs of low-income families in Thurston County. Supplies were given out at the free distribution day at Jefferson Middle School on Olympia's Westside.

The Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS) Project had been in existence since 1998 when organizers from groups as disparate as Junior League of Olympia, Capital Mall (now Westfield Capital),  St. John's Episcopal Church and the Community Action Council made a desperate plea for supplies over Mixx 96.1's airwaves. The response from listeners was immediate, spurring Mixx 96.1 KXXO co-owner and station manager Toni C. Holm '79 to action.

In 1999, the station initiated an all-day radio marathon broadcast from outside the station's Rockway-Leland Building studios at the corner of State and Washington in the heart of downtown Olympia. Listeners responded enthusiastically from the beginning and 10 years later, LRS is able to help more kids than ever before, providing them with school supplies, clean clothing, calculators, and backpacks. Holm herself has been in the trenches since the beginning, serving on the LRS board and – since starting a personal workout routine – doing much of the heavy lifting for the group. (This may surprise fellow alumni from Holm's< days at KAOS when she needed help to pick up anything over 10 pounds.)

"When we start the drive, we never know what's going to happen," Holm says. "It's a completely grassroots effort with people responding to help other people, all locally."

In a year when everyone is feeling the economic pinch "our community responded more generously than ever, with over $12,000 and a ton of supplies,” she continues.

Speaking of the station's ability for community outreach and action, Holm says, "we have a big horn to reach people and I love that we can put it to use in this way. There are going to be lot of happy kids with new backpacks & supplies this year. We live in a great community!"

For information on the Little Red School House Project call Community Action Council, (360) 438-1100, extension 143, or see www.redschool.org for more information.