Sunday, May 26, 2024

Charity and choppers

Austin’s Sunshine Foundation and Lonestar Syndicate Social Club kick off toy drive at Operation Texas Strong resale shop


Weatherford — Giving feels great for Weatherford-based Operation Texas Strong. The nonprofit, which provides vehicles and mobile homes to homeless veterans, kicked off a motorcycle ride and toy run across North Texas on Oct. 21 for Kangaroo Community Christmas and the kids of Palo Pinto County.

The organization’s 1507 Ranger Highway location in Weatherford served as the first toy dropoff box and starting location for riders. Toys collected by Operation Texas Strong will be given out to needy Parker County families throughout November and December during its annual Kangaroo Community Christmas event. The Crutsingers, who run operation Texas Strong, are also owners of Kangaroo Towing.

Instrumental to making it all happen were Austin’s Sunshine Foundation and Lonestar Syndicate Social Club.

Austin’s Sunshine Foundation was started by Paula Bloom Hill (aka U’Nique) and Bryan Hill (aka Butterbean) after their son, Austin McFadden passed away after a tragic motorcycle accident last year. The group helps families who have lost young adults by providing them with meals, resources, financial services and more. The foundation collaborated with local motorcycle club Lonestar Syndicate and Operation Texas Strong to help get gifts to kids throughout North Texas this year.

“It’s all about the kids,” according to the Hills. “We do it for the kids, the smiles on their faces.”

Deedee Zook (aka Epic) is the secretary of Lonestar Syndicate Club and stood out from the pack with her three-wheeled motor-trike. For Zook, the event was all about helping kids have better childhoods than their parents might have had. Zook is wife to Rob Zook, president of Lonestar Syndicate; she works at a Head Start program for children aged 6 weeks to 5 years. Her daughter, father-in-law and neighbor also joined in the event.

From Weatherford, the convoy traveled to Palo Pinto Volunteer Fire Department to deliver toys at another drop-off location and then went to Boondocks Bar and Grill in Possum Kingdom for the final drop off location and afterparty.

Chad Hutto, a veteran and founder of TxCo Adventures, came from Colorado, along with his service dog Jax, to join in on the drive. Hutto provides off-road experiences and comedy shows for nonprofits in Denver and Texas.

“Comedy got me out of a dark time in my life, so I try to use comedy to help other people,” Hutto said. Anything I can do to help a vet, that’s what I’m here for.”