It's the season for giving.
And one of the community's largest charitable events returns this week.
The 93.7/102.3 KRAI and 55Country Holiday Drive runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the west entrance to Centennial Mall.
The event, held since 1998 with the exception of one year, calls for residents to donate money, toys, food and toiletry items to four local agencies: Advocates--Crisis Support Services, Interfaith Food Bank, Christmas for Kids and Christmas for Seniors.
"It was really started years ago as something to help out during the holiday season, and it's really taken on a life of its own," said Frank Hanel, owner and manager of KRAI. "Agencies have come to depend on it."
Last year, the station switched from holding the event for five hours during five days to 12 hours a day for two days.
"Last year was the lowest we've been, so we need to pick it up," Hanel said.
Last year, the community donated about $17,000 to the drive. The best year brought in $24,000. KRAI collected about 4,000 pounds of food and an "innumerable amount of toys" last year, Hanel said.
He attributes the down year to people giving to Hurricane Katrina survivors, and expects contributions to be up again this year.
"We're more organized this year than we've ever been," Hanel said.
The drive includes more volunteers than in years past. Santa Claus will be at the drive for the entire 24-hour drive, and various musical groups will perform while KRAI broadcasts live throughout the two days.
Donations are accepted at the west entrance to Centennial Mall, where people can drive by to drop off donations. Moffat County United Way will distribute the tax-deductible donations, and contributors can designate to which agency to give their money.
"We want to give people an opportunity to give and do it in a way that they're able to see and know they're helping their friends and neighbors," said Mike Fuller, KRAI's program director.
Hanel said that last year the Holiday Drive fell on the two coldest days of the year, but it didn't deter any of the event's volunteers.
"That's all part of the magic of it," Hanel said. "This event is as much fun as anything we do all year."
For more information on the Holiday Drive, visit www.krai.com.