Ron Benton, a morning sports talk show host on WWLS-AM’s “The Sports Animal” who goes by the nickname “Spinozi,” is discussing another passion outside of his day job.
Spinozi is continuing his tradition of collecting Christmas donations for Oklahoma families.
According to Spinozi, it all started after losing an Oklahoma State football bet.
“Out of the blue, on a Friday morning, I get a check and a card from Mike Gundy that said, ‘I apologize. We failed you.’” Spinozi said. “And he gave me a check for $250 which was awesome.”
Spinozi donated that check to charity which attracted more acts of kindness.
“I said, ‘I’m going to throw a challenge out there,’ thinking no one would respond,” Spinozi said. I said, ‘Anyone that will give me $250, I will drive to you.’ Twitter and Facebook went crazy. By the time this thing was over with, Mike Gundy’s $250 check turned into $72,000. It was a miracle.”
Oklahoma City Center was the recipient of those miracle donations.
“We have a clothing closet, food pantry, a nutrition program, after school program for youth,” Oklahoma City Center owner Jed Chappell said. “We focus on education and athletics for the youth. We’re just here as a resource for families and youth to access things like clothing and food.”
Oklahoma City Center opened in 2017. The organization provides year-long assistance, but Christmas is a special time for them.
“From our very inception, we said we want to make Christmas special for everyone. And so, we began a toy drive,” Chappell said.
The first year they served approximately 700 families. This year, they will serve 2,500.
Each gift specific to the child’s list.
“Sometimes, there are young people in families that will ask for the most simple of things,” Chappell said. “Many times we say, ‘You know what. That’s a basic need that we’re just going to go ahead and give you. We’re going to ask you again, what do you want for Christmas?’”
A task this big requires lots of volunteers.
“If you just want to volunteer, you can come over here and wrap presents,” Spinozi said. “You can help put gift bags together.”
Volunteers also sort and bag items for each family.
Spinozi said the most rewarding part of volunteering is delivering gifts to families.
“The experience you’re going to get out of this is something you’re never going to forget,” Spinozi said.
Volunteers will start sorting, wrapping, and delivering gifts Dec. 15. Volunteers can sign up at www.okcity.center.
If you would like Spinozi to pick up monetary donation, you can call or text at (405) 650-4560.