GAINESVILLE, Texas — For the fourth year in a row, radio station KGAF in Gainesville, near the Oklahoma border, is underwriting brighter Christmases for dozens of families thanks to donors who choose to continue their anonymous tradition.
"Are you ready? Take a deep breath," station manager Steve Eberhart said to fellow radio host Dee Blanton early Friday morning, as they opened a briefcase full of cash and opened the phone lines to listeners who had already sent letters and emails to the station.
The heartfelt letters talked about cancer, COVID and other medical issues. One caller talked about their home burning to the ground this year.
"I'm on 12 different medications," one caller said.
"I'm struggling paycheck to paycheck, and I just can't keep up," said another.
This year, Eberhart and Blanton had a bigger response.
"How would $1,000 do," Eberhart said to each caller.
"A thousand," one caller said incredulously. "Oh, my God, that's gonna [sic] help us," she exclaimed.
Before the morning was over, KGAF handed out $1,000 to 40 different people: $40,000 cash all provided by those unnamed donors.
"You guys are just wonderful, you just don't realize what a wonderful thing you're doing," another caller said.
"I've cried the whole show," said Gainesville resident Glenda Hatten when she called the station. She is unable to work, and her husband is being treated for a brain tumor.
"We'll be married 58 years next month," she told WFAA when she arrived at the radio station an hour after her phone call. Eberhart counted out the cash in $100 bills and placed it in her hand.
"It means a lot, and I hope some day to pay it forward. I really do," Hatten said. "Because I've been blessed today."
Patty Neu was among those blessed as well. She is the one who called about the 12 medications needed to keep her alive.
"Well, don't you think it's great? What do you think of it," she asked WFAA reporter Kevin Reece after receiving her cash. "It's just outstanding isn't it. "
"To know that you're changing people's lives even just for a short period of time is an overwhelming thing," said Eberhart, after handing out the cash. "And, I'll never get tired of that."
The money comes from anonymous donors who ask each year for the radio station to find the Cooke County residents most in need.
This year, KGAF found 40 more, who even on a cloudy North Texas day, now have a brighter holiday in hand.