KRAI Holiday Drive helps those in need

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— The word “giving” has a strong meaning in Craig, especially when it comes to the annual KRAI and 55 Country Holiday Drive.

Last year, the radio station collected more than $25,000 in cash donations and close to 8,000 pounds of food.

“This thing is monstrous for the community,” said Frank Hanel, owner and general manager of KRAI.

The two-day holiday drive benefits Advocates Crisis Support Services, the Inter-Faith Food Bank of Craig, Christmas for Kids and Christmas for Seniors.

“A hundred percent of everything that’s donated goes to these organizations,” Hanel said as he enthusiastically described the event.

It provides an opportunity for Moffat and Routt counties' residents to give back to society, and it gets bigger and bigger each year.

“It just tickles me when people give us $500 checks or $1,000 checks,” Hanel said.

The event goes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Centennial Mall, where thousands of community members drop of gifts, food and money. Craig’s famous Santa will be at the holiday drive both days.

The radio station plays Christmas music all day long, has bands perform live on air and shares various holiday stories read by Randy Looper, who owns the Elk Run Inn.

Looper performs dramatic readings of his choice for listeners.

“It’s a way I can make people feel good,” Looper said, adding that the holiday drive is extremely important to Northwest Colorado. “It’s a wonderful way for people to donate to people in need. It’s very visible and an easy way to give food and toys to people in Craig.”

Volunteers and staff from the radio station will stand outside the mall and take donations, ensuring that the appropriate organization gets the donations.

Those who give cash can tally it up in different ways. For example, if someone wants to donate $50 to Christmas for Kids and $10 to Christmas for Seniors, the radio station will ensure that it’s properly distributed, Hanel said.

“Every dime, every dollar, every toy goes straight to these organizations,” he said.

It’s the 15th year the radio station has held the drive.

“It’s a really huge event of volunteerism and giving,” Hanel said.

Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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