Bryan natives give toys to kids in need

Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 11:42 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Devastating loss brought two Bryan natives together. Amanda Whatley, founder of Art in the Park, and Kenneth Calhoun, founder of FreeWorld Elite Sports, both lost their mothers but wanted to keep their legacies alive by helping others.

The two hosted their first toy giveaway for kids 2-10 years old Saturday, Dec. 18. They gave away more than 300 gifts to kids like Zakyren Jackson, who got a basketball and a Pop It toy.

“I’m gone play my cousin with basketball, and I’m just going to play with these [Pop It toys] when I’m nervous,” Jackson said.

This event was special to Whatley because she saw her mother give back to kids like Jackson.

“My mom used to, whenever she was alive, she used to do the same thing and she would give back at Thanksgiving and Christmas and when I lost her a year and a half ago, something inside of me wanted to do more for our community,” Whatley said.

As much as the kids were served during the event, Whatley believes it was a stress reliever for parents.

“There are some parents that may think, ‘oh my gosh my kids not going to have anything to open this Christmas,’ so at least if they come here they can pick up something and know their kid will have a gift under the tree,” Whatley said.

Calhoun believes the kids will remember the event for years to come.

“It was small, but to them, it’s their whole world and they’ll never forget you like that’s the guy who gave me two toys and don’t even know me,” Calhoun said.

Going forward, Whatley and Calhoun hope to give away more toys next year. They’re also planning more events to expose kids in low-income areas to the arts and sports.

“We really care, so we’ll be in the community,” Calhoun said. “We try to give back for real. That’s what it’s about.”

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