Generous Community Rises to the Challenge to “Stuff the Bus”

By: Marjorie Turner Hollman
Issue Date: 
January, 2018
Article Body: 

It all started with an idea. Ray Auger, My FM’s Mr. Everything, and host of the Morning Show on Myfm101.3 &WMRC 1490AM radio, told Tom McAuliffe, owner and manager of the stations, that he wanted to do a special promotion. The idea? Have a toy collection for Christmas, and fill the container provided at the toy collection spot. Simple concept, it’s been done before, for a worthy cause. McAuliffe agreed, and noted, “We just got a new station vehicle, a retired ambulance, so I said, ‘Sure.’ But Ray said, “I was really thinking about trying to fill a bus.’”
And thus began the “Stuff a bus” toy drive that took place December 2, planned as a 30-hour marathon toy drive in the parking lot of Target in Milford. McAuliffe and Auger started out at 6 a.m. that Saturday morning, planning to stay with the bus till noon Sunday. McAuliffe thought they might be lucky enough to get 200-300 toys, but with the added power of social media, the toy drive took on a life of its own.
The station obtained an initial $2,000 in corporate sponsors for the toy drive, and throughout the weekend, McAuliffe and/or Auger went into Target with money donated from sponsors and had ‘shopping sprees,” which they broadcast live on their Facebook page. They continued their regular programming on the radio, with quick check ins from the radio station about how the drive was doing, but McAuliffe marveled at the response they got when they went live on Facebook for their shopping sprees in Target.
“Social media was amazing,” Auger recalled. “The Facebook live shares went through the roof—we had fun with it.” He continued, “Our whole staff came down, volunteers showed up to help us collect and stack the toys, and to help with the shopping sprees. I admit I was building up sympathy (for staying up all night) but the truth is, we had a blast. We had hand warmers, pillows, blankets, and a lot of people came to see that we were all right. People brought us food, and we stayed on social media all night. We got very little sleep. Resellables of Bellingham brought down living room furniture and set us up under the stars for the event. McAuliffe noted “My wife Megan even came down with bacon, eggs and an electric fry pan to make us breakfast, and we got ready to do it all over again till noon Sunday.”
During the event Myfm 101.3 continued to encourage donations, which they broadcast over social media as Facebook live shopping sprees. When all was said and done, Auger figures they collected about 3,000 toys, about $60,000 worth of toys, which were donated to the U.S. Marines Toys for Tots. Auger noted, “We had to get Tony Gallo of Gallo Moving and Storage to come over to help collect all the toys. We gave the Marines a heads up about the success of the drive, and Lance Corporal Mike Shea just kept shaking his head, saying they’d never had such a response like this.
McAuliffe says they are already making plans for next year. “It was one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done,” he said shortly after the event, still somewhat groggy from lack of sleep. “I’ll catch up on sleep by January,” he laughed. “We had planned to stuff the bus with the toys and join the Milford Santa Parade, but there were just too many toys, so we took a few of the stuffed animals and stuck them in the bus and headed over to join the parade that Sunday afternoon. So many people stopped us along the parade route to thank us and tell us what a great thing this was. There are so many worthy charities out there. This was like a scene out of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Reflecting on the entire event, McAuliffe said, “You know, we don’t do this for the headlines, but by the time we saw how people were responding, we wanted to reach out to be sure people knew what had happened. The best thing about owning a local radio station is that I can do what feels right. Local radio is still making a difference.”
Special thanks to...
Target Store Milford
Maureen Moe Hutchins, Kevin and Vendetti Bus
Resellables for providing our living quarters
Tony Gallo for transporting the toys
Lance Corporal Mike Shea of the U.S. Marine Corps
Town Line Power Equipment for providing us with a generator.
Tim Rice for shooting some fun photos!
Pepperoncini’s Milford for lunch and dinner!
Thanks to our clean up volunteers: The Sheas, The Mauricios, The Reddens, The Augers, Josh Lioce, Tony Gallo
Thanks to our Shopping Spree Sponsors...
Asphalt Engineering
Tim Rice Photo
Adam Hicksfrom Depot St. Tavern
Joshua Lioce
Jose Ferreira
Kelley Cocuzzo Mccauley
Masters Touch Design Build
Old Time Auto Sales, Inc
Rubber Chicken Comics
Milford TV
Bellagente Salon Inc.
Jack Hamilton from Charles River Bank
Acapulcos Mexican Family
Restaurant & Cantina 
The Tradesman
Lularoe Chelsee O’Meara