Salvation Army refilling pantry with help from Phantom’s Ghost Town

Phantom’s Haunted Ghost Town at McKinney’s landmark Storybook Ranch, the newly restored circa 1850’s western village is answering the call to aid the North Texas Salvation Army’s call for pantry items.

Sergeants Carl and Kel Ungurait informed the local media, “Our pantries are under a great strain and we really need some extra help.”

“Peanut Butter and Jelly is a great support item for families who desperately need supplemental food items. It goes a long way. Any canned foods are needed to fill the near empty pantry. The gratitude and hope these needy families express keeps us going, but it’s heartbreaking for us to look at our limited pantry.”

River Ranch Educational Charities (RREC) is currently operating one of their biggest annual fund raisers in the form of a 10 acre haunted Ghost Town which is open at dusk on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the month of October at the Storybook Ranch. A pumpkin patch complete with hay bale maze, petting zoo, and pony rides has been set up on the Custer Road side of the 20 acre Collin County landmark.

Wayne Kirk, the director for RREC responds, “I am a big fan of the Salvation Army and what they do for our community. After hearing about the extreme need for food donations, we have decided to take $4 off the $25 Haunted Tour to anyone who brings canned foods to help out our neighbors.

Students in Collin County can get in on Sunday night for $15 with a can of food for the Salvation Army pantry.

The Phantom, James Dunn, is renown for developing Haunted Houses in the North Texas area. He has entertained thousands with his creative and well managed operation including the Texas State Fair.

McKinney Deputy Chief of Police Kim Lee Malelopszy commented, “The Storybook operation should be a used as an example of a well prepared and safely managed venue. They took the time to meet with the Fire Marshall, Police, and Fire to coordinate their safety standards.”

J.B. Blocker

Birthday blessings from River Ranch

By J.B. Blocker, Viewpoint
Happy Birthday to Jenny, Maya, Makayla, James, and Jonathan

The Big Day of the year, the my day, the only day we really call our own, is our BIRTHDAY.

Patricia Morris and her group of volunteers think about it all the time. They can’t bear the thought that that children would go through their special day without a little special attention.

They know the smiles, and they see the effects that their little Christian-based organization has been having on children. BirthdayBlessing is an all volunteer 501(c)(3), not for profit organization that sponsors birthday parties for children in Collin County. A little goodwill goes a long way.

They want organizations to send recommendations for others and then come see how much better you feel and share the moment with the happy, grateful families that you touch.

Each birthday party for about a dozen includes a party location, special personalized cakes, a pair of shoes, a complete outfit, various gifts, and a Bible. Of course, the prayer of thanks for each child is also a special moment when every one is sharing a moment with God and child.

River Ranch Educational Charities at the Frisco Horse Park on 121 and Coit is the monthly scene for many of these birthdays over the last year. Last week, five children who were suggested by the Boys and Girls club and the Samaritan Inn had their day.

Each child was able to invite friends from church and school to share the fun. They rode ponies and horses. They bounced, petted, screamed, and chased each other. They swung, ate, chased goats and sheep, and then got chased by a mother hen scrambling to hide a dozen orphan chicks from three dozen curious children.

In the stables, corals, and pastures that border 121 are more than 100 horses, a full assortment of other eqine, and of course, a petting zoo overseen by an impressive Peacock. Lessons are being given to the north, trail rides go on, stalls are being mucked, food and water is being moved around, and the flavor of the Old West is seeping in to the pores of the birthday guest.

One Sunday afternoon each month (depending on weather), the Frisco Horse Park provides their venue and staff for Western birthdays.


I was there Sunday. I saw the joy. Heard all the giggles and screams of delight. I took them in to the goat pens and showed them what a 5-pound lamb and kid goat felt like to hold and gently pet. I saw the awed respect for a 1,000-pound beast that will give you a ride.

Children are cutting their own cake supplied by bakeries like Elizabeth Cakes and Hands on Design of Allen. Opening presents they hoped for but never expected. Anxious to try on their new shoes and clothes, these children not only wanted, but needed.

I was that 5-year-old orphan in Japan who thought no one would adopt me because all I wore was old hand me downs. I remember almost every thing about my 6th birthday with my new family. She made me a chocolate locomotive cake with cream pie in the middle. My new mom! And the new shirt and tie I could wear to church with nice shiny black shoes like my new dad. I was so proud I can still feel it. I have a photo where I am dressed in my new family.

This is as rewarding a program as I have seen for instant and long term gratification. And it’s great for the Birthday kids too. is where you can contact Patricia. Or you can call 214-986-2377 to offer birthday support in the way of volunteers, food, toys, gifts, clothes, or other locations to hold parties. You’ll feel better, I promise.

J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Historic Downtown McKinney.

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