Local business celebrates holiday charity event with country music

By Olivia Willoughby

Tis the season of giving at the 42nd annual Country Music Show Toy Drive Sunday.

From 1:30 to 5:00 p.m., the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, will hold a toy drive for the Salvation Army, 830 Grove St. The Salvation Army distributes the toys to children who cannot afford them.

Organizer Gary Mullis said he wants everyone to come and support the cause. It costs one new toy to get in and boogie down or chill out to some country jams.

“I’ve been doing it for 42 years starting in December 1972,” Mullis said. “I thought it’d be nice to do. I want to encourage people to bring toys. It’s for a good cause.”

Jennifer Warren, director of social services for the Salvation Army, said the toy drive served 1,700 children two years ago and 2,100 last year.

“It has been very successful because of the community’s involvement and the partnerships,” she said. “We could never sign up 800 or 2,000 children for toys [without help].”

The House Cafe usually gets six to 12 boxes of toys, said general and “good vibes” manager Matthew Clark. People can enjoy giving to needy children as well as the list of country, gospel and bluegrass bands and musicians playing at the House Cafe.

“It’s going to be a fun show with country, bluegrass and gospel music,” Mullis said. “There’s a lot of different bands and singers, like Dale and Diane Reints, Buddy Welch and CMKT4 who will be backing me.”

Mullis will perform “Christmas Boogie,” for which he won “Song of the Year.” The song is also featured on country musician Kim Grover’s Christmas CD.

Clark welcomes anyone that wants to perform Sunday.

“It’s almost like an open stage,” Clark said. “There’s a good amount of Christmas songs as well. Folks can come in, donate a new toy and listen.”

While jamming out to country music, people can also come to spread some holiday joy among children who are unable to afford their own toys.

“Every child should have something to open on Christmas morning,” said Warren’s daughter Sienna Warren. “I’m excited to see the program’s turnout. It always works out, just like with the Thanksgiving drives.”