Communication students assist with third annual Toy Run Parade on Nov. 21

The Western Carolina University Communication Student Organization is assisting the Jackson County Motorcycle Association with the third annual Toy Run Parade to benefit the Jackson County Christmas Store.

The 45-minute parade will leave from Annie’s Food and Spirits located near U.S. Highway 23/74 at Exit 85 at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21. Participants will ride through downtown Sylva, to WCU and back to Annie’s.

Rider registration begins at 11 a.m. at Annie’s and costs $10. Participants also are encouraged to bring new toys to donate to the Christmas Store, which was designed to offer community members in need an affordable opportunity to acquire holiday gifts for their families.

In addition to the parade, the event features live entertainment, free food, raffles and auctions.

The WCU Communication Student Organization has assisted with publicity efforts including developing a press release, recording and distributing a public service announcement for radio, establishing an event Facebook page, applying for grant funding to print fliers and assisting with planning the event’s live entertainment.

Students also are helping coordinate event volunteers and setting up boxes at Jackson County businesses to collect toy donations in advance of the event. Donation sites will include two Valero gas stations, Salon 360, United Nations Bank and other Sylva locations, said Jessica Reed, a senior communication major from Newton and vice president of the Communication Student Organization.

“The Communication Student Organization is pleased to be able to offer our help and support in any way possible for this event,” said Reed. “This is a great opportunity for us as an organization to give back to our community, while practicing the skills we have acquired while at Western Carolina.”

In addition to Reed, WCU students and faculty helping with the event include William Dulaney, assistant professor of communication and an expert on outlaw motorcycle clubs; Debra Connelly, visiting assistant professor of communication; Justin Caudell, a junior communication major from Cashiers and editor of the Western Carolinian newspaper; Brian Graham, a senior communication major from Chapel Hill and president of the Communication Student Organization; Lauren Gray, a junior communication major from New London and a student leader with Last Minute Productions; and Garrett Richardson, a senior communication major from Winston-Salem and a host with Power 90.5, the broadcast service of Western Carolina University.

DeWayne Ward, owner of Annie’s Food and Spirits and member of the motorcycle association, said he is grateful for the assistance from WCU students and faculty.

“I believe the event will be a great success, and I am thankful for the Communication Student Organization and many others in our community for their support and giving to help other families in Jackson County,” said Ward.

WCU’s residential living department also hosts an effort to support the Christmas Store called the Angel Wings program. For more information about the program, visit online and click on “Angel Wings Information.”

For more information about the Toy Run Parade, contact Ward at (828) 586-1983 or Dulaney at (828) 227-2329.