BIG STONE GAP — Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc., based in Big Stone Gap and serving the needs of elderly Southwest Virginia residents in Wise, Scott and Lee counties and the city of Norton, has set its annual walkathon for May 4 to raise funds for MEOC's Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly.
The May 4 fundraiser, the largest single fundraising tool MEOC uses for the Emergency Fuel Fund, will begin at 2 p.m. at Union High School in Big Stone Gap.
MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler calls this year's event one of the most important, urgent walkathons ever. This past winter season, MEOC assisted with a record 1,656 heat-related emergencies, reporting more older citizens than ever are finding themselves in desperate need of assistance keeping their homes warm, safe and secure.
This past winter's record-setting sub-zero temperatures, coupled with relentless snow and ice storms, caused electric bills to soar rapidly and heat resources such as coal, gas, oil and wood to disappear quickly, Wampler said.
For the past 38 years, the region's citizens of all ages have gathered on the first Sunday in May for the annual Walkathon fundraiser to help older residents trapped in weather-related emergency situations. The fund is essentially tapped by the conclusion of the Emergency Fuel Fund season that runs from October through the end of March each year.
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