Casper’s Donovan Short Honored for Volunteerism
Two decades ago, right before Christmas, a Casper radio station received an emergency phone call: A local charity had more people than it could provide for coming through. Parents worried their children wouldn't get Christmas presents.
Donovan Short, Townsquare Media Casper Operations Manager, certainly won't forget it.
"Time was so tight on this one that we spent a few hours live until we got a van filled up and then sped across town to unload it, which ended up happening right in the middle of the event," Short said. "All of us who were there that night will never forget walking into that room full of grateful parents who weren't sure their kids were going to have a Christmas."
Anyone who's lived in Casper over the last 20 years — be it for a year or two, or a lifer — can't miss Short's charitable giving. It's simply who he is.
Friday afternoon, Short was honored with the Jefferson Award for his years of volunteerism in the Casper and Natrona County area. The award honors a recipient from each state for a searing dedication to making a difference in their communities.
That Christmas night more than 20 years ago led to the creation of a Casper mainstay: Stuff The Van.
The event was originally focused on giving toys to children who would otherwise go without during the Christmas season.
Then, one year, Casper gave Stuff The Van more cash than was required to meet the needs for the year.
Short and others brainstormed.
"I was on the board of a local charity at the time with folks who began hearing from teachers constantly about kids coming into school on Mondays feeling sick, struggling to focus, learn and play," Short said. "They finally realized these kids were hungry, going without food when they were away from the breakfasts and lunches at the school cafeteria."
Funds from the Stuff The Van were matched with a grant from a local foundation, which helped start Weekend Food Bags. In the project, volunteers work with teachers to find kids and need and cut through any red tape to go straight to the child.
Children are discretely given food to take home with them over the weekend. The result is kids showing up to school on Monday ready to learn.
And it snowballed into another Casper charitable pillar: The Wyoming Food for Thought Project.
Today, Short can be found working tirelessly to help out, whether it be helping to raise money for area charities each Thankful Thursday or campaigning to stuff a few radio station vans with toys each Christmas.
Whatever it is, he's undoubtedly left his mark.
But he's humble about it. Though winning the award is an incredible feeling, he mentions that it takes a village to help people out on this scale.
"I need to set up a schedule to loan out [the award] to all the other people who share in it," Short said. "None of this happens without a great crew at our stations, stellar charity partners and people who give — every time we ask them to. That's a lot to ask."