WOLB 1010 AM Radio on-air personality, former state Sen. Larry Young, will bring his production team to AFRO headquarters for a live broadcast, 6 to 10 a.m., Dec. 14. But it’s no ordinary broadcast. On that morning, Young will team up with Mrs. Santa and receive toys and goodies, especially for the little ones.
For more than five years, he’s aired his show from the Shake and Bake Center on Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore, and then had tons of toys delivered to Mrs. Santa.
They decided being at AFRO headquarters would negate the need for the delivery, provide easier access for donors as well as present the opportunity for Mrs. Santa to share a light breakfast with the community.
“I’m always excited about Christmas and being able to help others, especially the children,” said Sen. Young, WOLB veteran who joined the station in 1998. “Last year we took care of more than 500 kids and we expect to at least match that this year.”
Named by the Greater Baltimore Urban League as the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award winner, Young’s enthusiasm was apparent even though he was a bit under the weather recently.
“I’m pretty sure this is a first, at least I know it is for Radio One and our 54 stations,” the former state senator said, referring to the upcoming broadcast.
He’s also sure this partnership between a Black radio station and a Black newspaper is something new and that it will be modeled across the country. His show is rated the number one Black talk show in Maryland.
Every year, Mrs. Santa, with the assist of donations to AFRO Charities, serves at least 100 families and beyond with additional items going to area churches, shelters and transitional facilities. The letters begin to trickle in early, some before Halloween, and then become a torrent right after Thanksgiving.
“We try to help everyone who sends a request,” said AFRO Director of Community and Public Relations Diane Hocker, also known as Mrs. Santa since 2000. “And with the help of individual donations and especially groups, like the sororities and fraternities, we never turn anyone away.”
The requests that now come in hand-delivered envelopes and email are too many to be printed, and with the sagging economy, increase every year. Hocker works with a team of elves – AFRO employees and volunteers – maintaining Mrs. Santa’s workshop until every item is in the right place.
Mrs. Santa has been around since 1947 to ensure that families have what they need during the holiday season, but it didn’t stop with Christmas. Provision was made at Easter and Thanksgiving, in addition to aid in the wake of local disasters.
In 1974, with $14,421, 450 families received food baskets and 584 families received $10 food certificates and toy certificates from Montgomery Ward, according to notes from the late Ida Peters who was Mrs. Santa back then.
There were also events like the Christmas Eve party, for more than 1500 children, featuring regional entertainers at the Regent Theater.
Donations can be made throughout the year to AFRO Charities in care of the AFRO American Newspapers. For more information, contact Diane Hocker, firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-554-8243.