The Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign will officially kick off its fundraising efforts next Thursday with its second annual “Lip Sync Battle” at the Salazar Building in Kingsville. The public is invited to attend the free event and vote for their favorite performers through monetary donations.

“Everybody should come out because it’s going to be a good time,” Stefanie Perryman, coordinator for the Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots, said.

“There’s nothing like this in Kingsville,” co-coordinator Rebecca Sanchez added.

Started in 1987, the local Toys for Tots campaign collects money and new, unopened toy donations from October to mid-December every year. Donations are used to provide underprivileged area children gifts of toys for Christmas.

In addition to serving children in Kleberg and Kenedy counties, the campaign also provides toys for children in Bishop. Last year, the campaign provided toys for nearly 1,800 children.

While in prior years, the kickoff event did not serve as a fundraiser, Perryman said they had to make a change in 2018 after the campaign lost a significant amount of funding when Toys ‘R’ Us closed all of its stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017.

The Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign had received about $9,000 worth of toys annually through the retail chain prior to the store closures.

To offset that loss, Perryman and Sanchez decided to incorporate a “Lip Sync Battle” into last year’s kickoff event.

“And we raised just over $8,000,” Perryman said. “It was a huge success, and this year we have the same goal in mind.”

“Well, we want to go over that $8,000 mark,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said while the overall goal is to raise funds for Toys for Tots, just as important to her was to “bring ‘fun’ back to fundraising.”

“We want to have fun,” she said. “We want to scream and yell and hoot and holler, wave money around and have a good time.”

During the event, several pre-selected individuals and teams will be competing in a karaoke-style competition in which they will do their best to match their lip movements with prerecorded songs.

During and after the lip sync performances, attendees will have the opportunity to cast votes for their favorites by donating money to the campaign via cash, check or credit card.

“Each vote is one dollar, and you can basically just vote for your favorites as they perform,” Sanchez said.

Perryman said the performers are also allowed to solicit votes prior to the event, which will be counted in their overall total in the “Lip Sync Battle” standings.

“So even if you can’t make it out, you can vote for the team of your choice,” she said.

For the votes to count, however, all monetary donations made must be collected and turned in to Toys for Tots during the kickoff event. All proceeds raised will directly benefit the Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign and be utilized in purchasing toys through wholesale toy companies.

The overall winning individual or team will be named the Toys for Tots “Lip Sync Battle” Champion and receive a trophy.

Returning performers include last year’s winner Ricki Cunningham with Coldwell Banker, KIII-TV news anchor John-Thomas Kobos, Kleberg Bank Chief Operating Officer Brad Womack and his daughter Sienna and teams comprised of Kleberg County Sheriff’s deputies, U.S. Border Patrol agents, the Javelina Women’s Golf Team and the United States Marines Corps.

The event will also feature several new individuals and teams, such as Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate, Salazar Building owner David Thibodeaux, Farm Bureau Insurance and Kingsville Parks and Recreation.

“We’ve got some amazing teams this year,” Sanchez said.

Kleberg County Assistant District Attorney J. Dean Craig, who was the 2018 co-winner with Cunningham, will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event.

Perryman said this year’s “Lip Sync Battle” has already received more public interest than last year’s event.

“And we are excited because we think we’re going to have a bigger turnout as far as audience members go,” she said.

“Which means more fun and more votes,” Sanchez said.

Businesses will also be able to pick up Toys for Tots donation boxes at the event. For businesses unable to attend, donation boxes will be available at the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce, located at 635 E. King Ave.

The “Lip Sync Battle” kickoff fundraiser will be held Thursday, Oct. 17, starting at 6 p.m. at the Salazar Building, located at 200 E. Richard Ave.

The kickoff will be free to the public to attend, with cocktails, light hors d’oeuvres and cakes available during the event.

On Nov. 1, the campaign will begin accepting online applications for families wanting to receive toys through their website at kingsville-tx.toysfortots.org, under “Request a Toy – Family and Individual Request Form.”

For more information or to make a donation to the Kleberg-Kenedy County Toys for Tots campaign, contact coordinator Stefanie Perryman at (417) 496-6071 or co-coordinator Rebecca Sanchez at (361) 474-0710.

The organization can also be reached on Facebook by typing “kingsvilletoysfortots” in the site’s search bar or in messenger.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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