A mountain of school supplies. $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” School Supplies Drive in August, and every bit of it went toward supplying the back-to-school needs of low-income families in Thurston County at the group’s free distribution day at Jefferson Middle School on Olympia’s Westside.
The Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS) Project had been in existence for seven years in 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, and it spurred Mixx 96.1 KXXO co-owner and station manager Toni C. Holm (Evergreen, 1979) 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 the school supplies, clean clothing, calculators, and backpacks needed for school. Holm herself has been in the trenches from then on, serving on the LRS board and, since instituting a workout routine some years ago, doing much of the heavy lifting for the group. (This may surprise some of her fellow alumni from her days at KAOS where 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. Yet in a year when everyone is feeling the pinch economically, our community responded more generously than ever with over $12,000 and a ton of supplies. 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!"
Donations can be made year-round via checks to The Little Red Schoolhouse Project and mailed to: P.O. Box 6302, Olympia, WA 98507. Please call Community Action Council, 360-438-1100 extension 143 to volunteer.or see www.redschool.org for more information.