Last week’s annual walkathon, the organization’s major fundraiser for the Fuel Fund, raised $149,461 toward its goal of $165,000. Not a bad start but plenty of room to grow a fund that assists residents age 60 and older of Lee, Wise and Scott counties and the city of Norton who confront emergency heating situations during the coldest months of the year.
“We had about 275 walkers from the community come out (last Sunday) to help us with the Emergency Fuel Fund,” Wampler said. “This truly is a community event and our community members and businesses continue to step up each year to assist their older friends and neighbors.”
Every penny of money donated for the fund is used to help elderly residents bridge wintry situations where the choice could be food, medicines or heat. The fund is used to pay an electric bill or buy heating oil, wood or coal for residents in a bind.
From Oct. 1 of last year through the end of March, MEOC’s Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly responded to 1,517 emergency situations and spent a record $222,466.18 to help keep older residents warm, safe and secure in their own homes.
Wampler said 14 organizations or businesses donated $5,000 or more to last Sunday’s walkathon. They include Humphreys/Red River Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, Norton City Schools, Heritage Hall of Big Stone Gap, Oliver Coal Sales, the Wise County Board of Supervisors and Dominion Foundation.
Others include United Way of Southwest Virginia, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Old Dominion Power Co., Wells Fargo, Lee County Community Foundation, FasMart and In Honor and Memory of Larry Adams.
“The commitment from these organizations and businesses really jump-starts our fundraising for the Emergency Fuel Fund,” Wampler said. “We are very close to meeting our goal for this year, which we set at $165,000, and I think with the continued support of our community we will not only meet but exceed that goal in the days to come.”
Donations to the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly can be made year-round and can be sent to MEOC Attn: Emergency Fuel Fund, P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219, or call (276) 523-4202.