Tuesday, 27 December 2011 by Justin Cox
Four local businesses came together last Friday to help put some smiles on children's faces on Christmas morning.
Last Friday, Schoepf's Old Time Bar-B-Que, Bradley Shepard and Emilio Perales of HB Shepard, Kenny Paysee of Farmer's Insurance and Don Ringler Chevrolet/Toyota sponsored a "Toy Drive" to benefit Belton's Project Angel Tree.
During the lunch hour, Ronnie Schoepf and Jeff Potvin (Don Ringler Chevrolet/Toyota) dressed up as "Cowboy Santas" and collected toys in hopes of filling the bed of a Chevy pick-up truck.
"It was really exciting to get out and do that with Jeff at Toyota with the support of Don Ringler," Schoepf said. "My wife (Staci) and I were pretty excited about it."
Although Schoepf said he and his wife have helped with toy drives in the past, this is the first year the restaurant held its own drive.
"What was neat was knowing that we were, in a very small way, assisting people's generosity to help put some smiles on some kids' faces," Schoepf said. "That is a really cool feeling for Staci and I."
Project Angel Tree is a program of Prison Fellowship which seeks to reconcile prisoners and their families to God and each other through the delivery of Christmas gifts and a gospel message. Working with more than 30 organizations, including churches and other child advocacy groups, the program will supply more than 1,600 children of Bell County with gifts from their parents who are incarcerated.
"I think that we pretty much met our goal for the first year," Schoepf said. "If we put all of the toys in the back of that Chevy, it filled it up. We had bicycles, basketball goals and other smaller things, but it would have made a nice, full sleigh."
Schoepf said his favorite part of the day was getting to dress up as Santa Claus, but he has a new respect for those that play Santa.
"It was really fun to wear the stuff and wave at people and see their reactions. Some people didn't even recognize who we were," Schoepf said. "God bless all those people that help Santa by playing Santa. It's a tougher job than I thought it would be."
Eric Raines from US 105 was also on hand broadcasting live throughout the toy drive.
Schoepf said he wasn't surprised they were able to fill the truck with toys.
"The generosity of folks in Bell County, especially with the excitement of this time of year, it isn't surprising to see people want to help to make that day special for kids," Schoepf said.