A local radio station raised more than three tons of toys and 222 bicycles in a little more than a week.
Jammin’ Jimmy Olson, radio personality and vice president of operations for Waller Broadcasting stations 95.3 and 102.3 The Breeze, lived in a portable storage container in the Broadway Square Mall parking lot for eight days to collect toys for the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots.
Olson, 45, refused to leave the mall parking lot for any reason until his goal of 102 bicycles and a ton, or 2,000 pounds, of toys were collected. He slept in the box in a recliner with only a space heater and thick blanket for warmth against the elements.
At the end of the fifth annual drive, 6,471 pounds of toys of 222 bicycles will be placed under the Christmas tree of a needy family in East Texas.
Olson said the total of toys collected was about 500 pounds behind last year, but a record number of bikes were collected.
Once all of the children on the Toys for Tots list are taken care of, the overage will go to help others on The Salvation Army Angel Tree and to local church toy drives.
Olson faced a number of additional challenges this year. He said he is often sick at the end of the drive, but this was the first year he was sick with bronchitis going into it. After the toys were weighed on Monday, Olson was headed to the doctor for an evaluation. He said he felt marginally better than when he entered the box but wanted to make sure.
Blistery cold and rainy days also presented a challenge. Olson said the rains were timed horribly on the two busiest donation drop-off days.
“With the weather the way it was, the frigid rain we got, the wind chill that we had — to be able to blow away last year’s record of 178 bikes with 222 bikes” was amazing, he said. “Toys were down, but bikes are No. 2 on a child’s Christmas list, so there are a lot more kids that are going to get that wish than ever.”
Even though the amount of toys was down from 2012, the station still beat its goal by two tons, Olson said.
“Next year, we will blow it out of the water again,” he said.
Each year brings inspiring stories of those who give from the bottom of their hearts. Olson said local children broke their piggy banks, went door-to-door, did chores around the house and used their own allowance money to help others in need.
“God is good,” he said. “This is awesome, absolutely awesome.”
But after a long week of urban camping, Olson said he is thrilled to take a shower, shave and sleep in his own bed.
“This year, it was great to struggle to get there, but it was all worth it…” Olson said. “I feel miserable and great at the same time, if that’s possible. I’m miserable because I’m sick, but I feel great because we helped so many kids — that is what it is all about.”