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The 26th and successful WMOA Christmas zoo

December 28, 2015
By Ben Marshall
Another Christmas season, and another WMOA Christmas zoo has come and gone. I think this zoo, the 26th annual, felt a little extra special. As a member of the WMOA Staff I've been a part of eight Christmas zoos, each one taking place in the window of the Workingman's Store on Putnam street. This year, despite the fact that I actually “Kept zoo” less than I have in previous years, and although we have had better donation numbers in recent years I think the 2015 zoo was the best in quite some time. I could go on and on about the zoo at some pretty tremendous length, but I just want to highlight a few special moments from 2015.
When we're trying to plan for the zoo, one of the first things we need is a window. We are incredibly lucky to have partnered up with the Workingman's store for so many years. We enjoy being in their store during the holiday season and I know they care about the zoo too. In fact, over the summer, I saw Dave Schramm, owner of the Workingman's store, and he said “Tell Johnny to call me so we can talk about the zoo.” It was so early in the year it was not on my radar, but Dave had thought about it, and I'm incredibly thankful for their generosity and willingness to help us out.
Something I take an exceptional amount pride in is, of course, our zoo keepers. I want to specifically mention two people that were involved with the zoo for the first time this season. Jordan Shaw was our Saturday zoo keeper, What you have to understand about that is Jordan is our news reporter/Anchor. As a general policy we don't necessarily expect our news team to fill a role like that, but she voluntarily jumped up and filled that slot and I was glad she did.
Maria Rutherford also had her first taste of the zoo this year. Maria was never at the zoo, because she held down the fort at the studio as the afternoon DJ. Like Jordan though, Maria stepped up and faced a task she'd never done before, and I think they both did a great job.
A new feature to the zoo this year was the “pet of the day”. Every Wednesday and Friday a volunteer from the Humane Society for the Mid Ohio valley brought a dog down to the workingman's store and we talked about it on air for a little while. I cannot take credit for the idea to partner with the HSOV though; for that I have go back to the Workingman's store and their employee Diane. Diane has lots of experience with Animals and many hours of her time spent volunteering at the Humane society. She approached me with the idea a few days before the zoo began and with the help of the folks at the HSOV, their volunteers, and Kyle Wenzel we were able to pull it off, and I'm so glad we did it.
Of course the most special part of any zoo is getting our donations into the pipeline sending them onto our friends that help us get them into the hands of the children that need them. As a final tally for the 2015 WMOA Christmas zoo 1,470 toys were donated and $700 was donated to the WMOA Christmas zoo fund.
The first Presbyterian church (more on that in a minute)
We even gave a bag of toys to Jolly old Saint Nick himself this year. We are very grateful to all the folks that helped us out in the distribution efforts this season. That includes someone I almost overlooked, Bryon Sunderman. Bryon has helped us with the zoo for many many years now, whether it's keeping zoo, or help bag and ship off toys. This year Bryon was instrumental in toy distrubution, driving all over town delivering toys. The cash donations from the Zoo fund will be put to work through the Marietta community foundation, later this week Kyle and I will sit down and decide what the money will be earmarked for.
The First Presbyterian church had a huge luncheon on Christmas day, they told us they had about 500 people RSVP to the event so we sent them about 500 toys from the Christmas zoo. Once the feast was over some of the volunteers from there, including Laura Bays, wrapped up a bunch of the food and one box of toys and delivered it to the Gospel mission so that it could still be donated to those who need it. Jeff and Candy Waite from the Mission said they estimate that donation will feed about 75 – 100 people. You can see pictures of the zoo through out the season, and from Laura's efforts on Christmas day on our Facebook page.
I can not end this without more thank you's. Our Day sponsors:
Riverview Credit Union
And of course Artex Oil and Doctor Cline, his wife, and two daughters for sponsoring the “Top of your Christmas” promotion.
All of our great zoo keepers for once again doing a wonderful job corralling animals, Laura, Shawn, Kyle, and Jordan. Knowing that we have people in the building who are passionate about the zoo makes it a lot easier to pull off every year.
Last but certainly not least, our listeners, our donors, you. Thank you. As I've said in the past, the Zoo is my favorite thing we do here at the radio station, I look forward to it every season and I love seeing it succeed, we could not do it without all the aforementioned people and business and organizations coming together, but most importantly this amazing community that comes out and supports the zoo year in and year out your generosity never ceases to amaze me. Now I'm going to go eat some more tootsie rolls, thanks to Marti.

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