Randolph Countians are, for the most part, no different from anyone else who lives in the western foothills of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.
Sometimes we stop and let a waiting motorist into our line of traffic the moment they are spotted. Other times we won't; we make them sit and wait for what seems like forever when one would-be good natured driver would lose nothing by letting the motorist in line. We speed up when the traffic signals turn yellow often times running the red light before getting through an intersection - all at the risk of eternity to save three or four minutes. We hesitate to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks (where they have the right-of-way) taking our chances with fate.
When it comes to charity, though, we are as generous as anyone anywhere. We open our wallets and purses at the asking for help. Here are some examples of the charitable organizations we support and the amounts of money they collect. In most cases all of the money collected in tickets sales, food and beverage vendor sales, raffles and the many other activities involved is returned to the community either on the day of the fundraising event or eventually through the way or ways the organizations meet their charitable objectives.
I don't have space to look at each individual organization or the time to gather their statistics and I am loathe to disappoint anyone by not including them. (As best I could determine there are approximately 33 charitable organizations registered with the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce that are actively engaged in fundraising.) Here is some information provided by a few of the larger fundraising organizations.
The United Way of Randolph County set a goal of $155,000 for its fundraising year 2010 and reached it. Its goal for 2011 is $170,000. According to Cindy Nucilli, executive director, all the money raised by United Way stays in Randolph County.
Each year the Tygart Valley Lions Club sells 200 tickets for $150 each as its primary fund raiser - that's $30,000. I don't know how much the club keeps to meet its objectives, but as anyone who has attended the club's "Great Give Away" knows the vast majority of it is returned to those who buy tickets through food and beverages on the day of the event. This event is so popular that it is nearly impossible to get a ticket if you are not on the list of last year's purchasers.
One of the largest fundraising events that Randolph County citizens have been involved in for the past two years is The Snowshoe Foundation's "Treasure on the Mountain." Each year the goal has been half a million dollars and they didn't miss it by much this year. According to officials with the organization, this year they raised $412,800. They gave approximately $250,000 back to ticket holders on the day of the event, Aug. 7, in cash and prizes. Several other organizations participated with the foundation as a means of raising money for their organization during the day as food and beverage vendors raising the overall amount by an untold sum.
While a small portion of the total money raised by this charity may come from Randolph County, it is still one in which our residents participate. Residents of Pocahontas, Webster and Greenbrier counties and probably some other nearby counties participate. One must consider, too, the demographic base this charity has to draw from - it includes all those who own property at Snowshoe for whom a $100 ticket is not a "big ticket" item.
Relay for Life of Randolph County raised a total of $110,722.73 during its 2010 fund raising year. I'm told by organization officials that all of the money they raise goes to the American Cancer Society for a variety of things including research.
We as local residents may not see the money returned to us directly but those who either have or may get cancer receive benefits through the ACS when they visit their cancer clinic.
Those who would like to know specifically where the money goes may log on to www.cancer.org.
The Kiwanis Club of Elkins, according to a member I talked to who wished to remain anonymous, said that their club raises about $20,000 per year, which goes back into the community.
The Elkins-Randolph Family Y raised $36,100 this year during its "Run for Fitness" fundraising campaign. All of the proceeds, after expenses, goes back into the Elkins and Randolph County community through capital improvements on the Y, providing scholarships of various kinds to those who otherwise could not afford to be a member and many other benefits.
They, like most other charitable organizations, have other fundraisers so this is only a part of what our local residents fork out to help keep the Y running and to help others enjoy the organization's programs.
It would be interesting to know exactly how much money is dolled out to charitable organizations by our residents each year but gathering that data would take much more time than is available. Additionally, I am not interested in reporting exactly how much money is kept by each organization after all expenses are met. My purpose is simply to give a basic idea of how generous we are as a community.
If only 100 people donated to the Snowshoe Foundation fundraiser, and I suspect it would be more like 200 or 250 people who participated in that campaign, we have given almost $362,000. Folks that's only $134,000 short of half a million dollars - pretty good wouldn't you say.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia. As many of you have noticed, this year August has five Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. According to statisticians who keep track of this kind of information this happens only once every 823 years. Guess none of us will be around for the next time.
There's a new book on the market by Elkins resident David Armstrong filled with stories, history and pictures of railroading, mining, timbering and many other interesting tales from the Allegheny Region during the Age of Steam. Titled "Blue Steel, Timber and Steam: A Scrapbook of Tales from Boom-era Allegheny," the book, according to promotional material I received, is put together in a way so one can open it on most any page and find a short anecdote, caption or clipping that could be read by itself.
It also contains longer stories and memories as told by the people who were there - those who built and operated railroads, mills and coal mines in the Allegheny Region in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Another interesting thing about the book is that it pays special attention to the role and trials of women who lived and worked along the railroads, in the mining towns and lumber camps. It also covers the transition that mountain people have made from extractive industry to tourism.
The book contains more than 75 vintage photos including some taken in Randolph, Pocahontas, Tucker and Upshur counties. More than 100 newspaper stories are sampled or shown in their entirety. More than 15 interviews made from 1916 through 1990 are given in whole or in part; interviews with those who had a common story - they saw the turbulent and formidable changes of the era.
The 143-page soft-bound book is only $25, plus $2 if mailed. It may be purchased from the author at 227 Sylvester Drive, Elkins, by calling 304-636-0657 or my e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .