Holly Jolly Trolley Food Drive spreads holiday cheer

By CiaraShook

If the entire student body, which comprises more than 11,000 people, were to donate just $1 or a single canned food item, it would be “incredible” in the present economic climate, according to Cheryl Morton-Langston, director of Columbia’s WCRX radio station.

WCRX 88.1 FM and the Radio Department will host their 7th annual Holly Jolly Trolley Food Drive on Dec. 10 and will be accepting donations for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. The event will feature a trolley parked on Wabash Avenue filled with nonperishable items, and will host a slew of events throughout the day in the lobby of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building.

“You’ll know that it’s here when you see the big, red Holly Jolly Trolley parked outside on Wabash,” said Tony Kwiecinski, station supervisor for WCRX.

Langston said the Holly Jolly Trolley Food Drive came to fruition when she found a student at WCRX who was a driver for a trolley company in Chicago.

“We were brainstorming one day, trying to come up with something that would be a tradition at the college—our fixture,” Langston said. “Tony and I both felt that it was really important for students to find a way to give back and what better way than to have a food deposit.”

Throughout the years, the Holly Jolly Trolley Food Drive has evolved from a donations initiative into a holiday event, and this year will feature guest musicians and local icons, a silent auction, an ice cream eating contest compliments of Dairy Queen and a bake sale.

“We kind of think of it as a festival,” Langston said. “We hope it is.”

The station will be on air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with student DJs emceeing the event. WCRX will broadcast live sets from a broad range of bands.

Local faces and politicians are slated to drop by, including Secretary of State Jesse White, Ald. Robert Fioretti of the 2nd Ward, the Loop Alliance, WCIU morning host Jeanne Sparrow and Columbia’s President Warrick L. Carter.

“[Carter] is a huge supporter,” Langston said. “He’s helped make Holly Jolly bigger. He always brings over about 15 to 20 bags of groceries.”

A silent auction will be held, during which participants can bid on items such as certificates to the Melting Pot, Ann Sathers and Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, as well as tickets to the House of Blues Chicago World Famous Gospel Brunch and a one-night stay at Hotel Sax.

The day will also feature a prize wheel, the WCRX Wheel of Fun, in which people can participate with a small monetary donation. The Wheel of Fun will have DVDs, CDs, T-shirts, key chains, WCRX apparel and gift certificates to attractions throughout Chicago, such as Brookfield Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Langston said the best thing about the food drive is that everybody comes together to help provide food for those who may not be able to afford a holiday meal.

“It’s fun to see how everybody starts really getting together,” Langston said. “For instance, Matt [Palumbo]’s mom is baking something like 150 cookies so we can sell them, and all the proceeds go to the Greater Chicago [Food Depository].”

Students of the Radio Department and the radio station worked to obtain the donations from the local businesses for the silent auction and WCRX Wheel of Fun.

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s low effort for people to come by,” said Antionette Woolard, a junior radio major. “We put a lot of effort into it so nobody else has to. All you have to do is give a little.”

Alpha Baking Company, which has participated in the food drive for the past seven years, is also donating a large sum of bagels to sell that day. Proceeds will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Langston said that since the inception of the Holly Jolly Trolley Food Drive, WCRX and the Radio Department have raised more than $25,000 and collected more than 3,000 pounds of food for donation.

“If every person gave just $1, think of how much money we’d be able to raise,” Langston said. “One dollar, one can of food would be incredible. It’s that time of year, and I think people feel they should give back a little.”

Kwiecinski said that if someone gives a little, they can get a lot in return.

“How many people have those cans of soup they bought that are just sitting in their cabinet they probably might not ever get to?” Kwiecinski said. “Just bring it in.”

All events will be held in the lobby of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, and the trolley will be parked outside the building alongside the curb of Wabash Avenue, with radio and WCRX students accepting food and monetary donations.