'Straight Talk from the Candidates' Effort To Inform Voters

In an effort to inform voters and arm them with the tools they need to make their choices at the polls, KPRC2 invited candidates in major political races to address viewers in a special hour-long public service program, “Straight Talk from the Candidates.” The program was presented commercial-free on Friday, October 21st at 7 p.m. and was produced without commentary in order to serve as a forum for candidates to share their visions without interruption.

KPRC2 also partnered with Telemundo Houston to host a bilingual phone bank for voter information on October 24th, as early voting began. These initiatives complemented KPRC2’s election coverage, which included sending reporters to cover every debate, conventions and important stops along the campaign trail.

WDIV Adopts Detroit Public School

WDIV-Local 4 has embarked on “Help Me Hank: The School Project,” a 10-month commitment to better the physical environment of Thurgood Marshall Elementary-Middle School in Detroit.

The station partnered with Detroit Public School Community District to identify a school that was in crucial need of building renovations.  Thurgood Marshall Elementary-Middle School is home to nearly 700 students and dedicated faculty and staff.

“As a reporter in Detroit for the last 16 years, I’ve seen school children and teachers trying to learn and teach in appalling conditions and it is unacceptable,” said Help Me Hank Consumer Reporter Hank Winchester. “‘Help Me Hank: The School Project’ is not about who is to blame for the state of the schools, but how we, as a community, can work with our generous friends and the people of the school district to create a better physical learning environment for the young and curious students of Thurgood Marshall.”

The cafeteria and front office were the first targets for renovations. Hire It Done and PPG Paint donated time, materials, and people to transform the cafeteria and main office.

“Right now the gymnasium doesn’t have bleachers. There are two-by-fours on top of paint buckets for people to sit,” said Kim Voet, news director. “The gymnasium, media center, and ways to improve technology are the next big things on our list.”

“The school mascot is a dolphin and there was not one dolphin in the building. When our friends from Fathead provided dolphin decals for the cafeteria, we could see the excitement from the faculty, staff, parents and students. We can’t wait to do so much more over the next school year,” said Winchester.

“Building quality is important to student outcomes. There’s a real sense of pride that comes from being in an updated, safe and physically attractive learning environment. Local 4 is headquartered in Detroit and the schools of this city are our neighbors and are educating our future leaders,” said Marla Drutz, Local 4 vice-president and general manager.

'Kicks for the Kids' shoe giveaway helps families put best foot forward

  

Hundreds of kids now get the chance to take a step in the right direction heading into the new school year thanks to Sunday’s “Kicks for Kids” event.  The charitable event held at the Regency Square Mall was a success thanks to the folks who donated more the 1,500 pairs of shoes.

A grandmother of seven, Loretta Grant was first in line. Her family needed help now, more than ever. The father of her grandchildren suddenly passed away in his sleep.

“He died on Christmas night,” Grant said. “He went to sleep on Christmas night and we woke up the next morning and he was dead. He died in his sleep, 34 years old, and he left behind seven kids.”

Jayden Stratton was also in line with his family. Jayden’s going into the fifth grad and was really hoping for “Jordan's, or Nikes.”  Jayden said he was just excited to get out here and meet new friends. He said he can’t wait to go back to school because he has goals to accomplish.  “Good grades mostly,” Jayden said. “Good attendance and trying to be the best I can be.”

Kara Strayer said she’s grateful her son, who’s going into the third grade, was able to get a pair of shoes for the new year.  “He's an awesome, outgoing kid and he loves to play and ride his bike outside, so he definitely goes through his fair pair of shoes,” Strayer said.

  

'Clear The Shelters' Promotes Pet Adoption

KPRC2’s commitment to the community extends to our four-legged friends.

In July, KPRC2 partnered with Telemundo Houston to help Clear the Shelters as part of a nationwide initiative spearheaded by NBC. The program encouraged overcrowded shelters to waive or deeply discount their adoption fees in order to curb euthanasia rates. Through extensive promotion of pet adoption facilities and programs, along with tips on responsible pet ownership via promotional spots and on-air interviews, Clear the Shelters helped alleviate over-crowding problems in Houston area shelters at a time of year when adoptions traditionally occur less frequently.

Through the campaign, more than 2,500 pets were adopted in the Houston area, with totals surpassing 47,000 pet adoptions nationwide.

KPRC2 Summer Blood Drive Supports Community

The Houston area sees a drop in blood donations each summer, so KPRC2 worked to raise awareness and help increase life-saving blood supplies in partnership with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. The KPRC2 Summer Blood Drive, hosted in front of the station on June 16th, resulted in 1,412 blood donations.

The quantity represents a nine percent increase in donations over prior year totals and gave KPRC2 the designation of having the largest media-sponsored blood drive event in Houston. Each blood donation has the potential to save up to three lives, so the KPRC2 Summer Blood Drive alone could impact more than 4,000 people in the Houston area and beyond. In fact, once local blood supply needs were met, some donations collected at the KPRC2 Summer Blood Drive were sent to help victims of the mass nightclub shooting in Orlando.

WJXT Event Helps Provide Thousands With Free Dental Care

WJXT's Positively Jax partnership with the Florida Dental Association Foundation helped provide nearly 3,000 people with urgently needed dental care at no cost to the patients.  The Florida Mission of Mercy, a two day free dental clinic, offered free dental examinations, fillings, tooth extractions, root canal treatment, children's dentistry, temporary partial dentures and dental cleanings.  The dental care donated is valued at over $2.7 million.

People in need of dental work began lining up Thursday morning for the April 22-23 event, which brought together hundreds of dental and non-dental professionals to fix the smiles of Jacksonville-area residents who could not otherwise afford it.

"The genuine appreciation of the people who took advantage of this event was overwhelming," said WJXT Vice President and General Manager Bob Ellis.  "The smiles said it all.  We are so proud to serve our community and will look for more opportunities to use our voice as Jacksonville's true local TV station to make our community a better place to live," he continued.

"I've waited for this all my life.  Oh my God, I can't believe it," said Wanda George after getting out of Dr. Richard Caven's dental chair.  When first evaluated, the mother of four who had not seen a dentist in years, was told her teeth were probably too far gone to save.  But Craven said that hearing Wanda George was about to get married in three months, worked to save her teeth.  "That definitely makes me say, 'Yeah, we've got to get this one right,'" Craven said.  "That's when we know we have success...when the patient is happy with the way it looks."  News4JAX plans to follow up on Ms. George's story during her wedding in July.

Said Dr. Zack Kalarickal, DDS, "It was wonderful to partner with WJXT Channel 4 for the 2016 Florida Mission of Mercy.  Having WJXT on our team helped us truly help Jacksonville!"

Dr. Roger Robinson, DMD, one of the event's organizers, said "The ability of WJXT to get the word out and reach the dentally underserved was absolutely astonishing as witnessed by the tremendous turnout of dental patients on both days."

To make sure as many people were treated as possible, more than 2,400 volunteers were at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.  Robinson said there was no shortage of volunteers and many of them came from all over the state and even paid for their own travel and accommodations because this is something they truly believe in.

Every person News4JAX spoke with had a compelling story or need—and gratitude.  "I totally appreciate the opportunity," said Saprina Cooks.  "I'm totally grateful."

Positively Jax is an annual campaign dedicated to celebrating what's uniquely wonderful about Jacksonville by highlighting the people and things that make living here special.  Each month WJXT Channel 4 and our partner, Memorial Hospital, sponsors a Community Outreach Event and presents a Positively Jax award recognizing people or organizations making a difference in the community.