ANGLETON — Fifteen years after her death, Natalie Woolsey’s impact continues to stretch across Brazoria County.
Hundreds of children will receive toys and books for the holidays this year because of efforts Woolsey started before her death in a car accident in 2003, when she was on the way to emcee the Lake Jackson Festival of Lights Teen pageant. Her SUV was loaded with toys at the time of the accident.
Though her earthly time was short, her legacy lives on through the nonprofit founded by Natalie Woolsey Toy Drive Director Josie LaChance and Woolsey’s mother, Leann.
“Something else that’s really important to me is the friendships we’ve made and the volunteers we have,” LaChance said. “They do it just because they love it. Some of them knew Natalie, but some of them are just here because they love the cause.”
In its ninth year as a nonprofit, the toy drive partners with local schools and other nonprofits in Brazoria County in order to bring toys and gifts to children each Christmas, friend and volunteer Meagan Mueck said.
“This all started with a bake sale,” Mueck said. “And last year we raised over $100,000 to help children in the county.”
To raise money and help fill applications submitted by local nonprofits and area schools, the Natalie Woolsey Toy Drive is hosting a family-friendly fundraiser Saturday at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds in Angleton, LaChance said.
The fundraiser will include entertainment by local dancers, fried fish plates for $12, kids’ activities, a live auction and more in support of the foundation’s efforts to provide kids with Christmas gifts, LaChance said.
The public is encouraged to come take part in the event and enjoy a day out while supporting a good cause, LaChance said.
“I love Christmas and for kids to have things during the holiday season,” LaChance said. “I’m motivated by Natalie’s memory — her mom Leann is really what drives me. Natalie passed 15 years ago and we’re so happy that 15 years later, we’re able to preserve her memory.”
In addition to the toy drive, the nonprofit recently partnered with Brazosport ISD schools to provide free books to students at every elementary school, LaChance said.
“It’s interesting because Natalie wasn’t even a huge reader, but she wanted everyone to feel included, so I love that everyone gets to go pick out their books,” LaChance said.