Through a matching grant, multiple Rotary organizations collectively worked together to purchase 2,107 turkeys for 12,000 hungry people this holiday season.
Following their motto of "Service Above Self," Rotarians of District 7530, which represents 31 clubs in central West Virginia, recently donated $25,000 to the Walmart in Buckhannon for the turkeys. The organization then donated the turkeys to the Mountaineer Food Bank.
The Food Bank will begin distributing the turkeys in the next few days to feeding programs in 21 communities in central West Virginia, providing a hot holiday meal for an estimated 10,00012,000 people.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Officials from Rotary, Walmart and Mountaineer Foodbank gathered in the parking lot of the Walmart in Buckhannon Tuesday with the 2,107 turkeys that will help feed those in need this holiday season. From left, Kay Hurst, a Rotarian in the making; Chad McIntyre, Walmart manager; Jody Light, district Rotary foundation chair; Chad Morrison, food resource coordinator; Greg Smith, Rotary District 7530 governor; and Rotarian John Clise stand with the turkeys and two checks for $25,000. One check was presented to Walmart for the purchase of the turkeys, and the other was presented to Guttman Oil for the purchase of fuel.
The purchase was made possible through the Rotary Foundation's Matching Grant Program with funds generated from individual Rotary members' contributions in District 7530 matched with funds from Rotarians in District 3020 and 3140 in India and District 7000 in Puerto Rico. Those funds were then matched 100 percent by the Rotary Foundation - for a total project cost and donation to the Mountaineer Food Bank of $50,000.
"That's the backbone of Rotary," District Foundation Chair and Buckhannon Rotarian Jody Light said, adding that it has been a district goal of all 31 clubs to support local food banks. "It was a tremendous match and a great partnership."
The remaining $25,000 went to Guttman Oil for the purchase of fuel for the Food Bank's daily pick-up and deliveries throughout most of the state. Last year, a $40,000 matching grant provided similar assistance to the Mountaineer Food Bank, which serves programs in 48 of West Virginia's 55 counties.
Light expressed sincere gratitude to area Rotarians for their generous contributions, adding that "although many matching grants provide funding for projects in other countries, it's a blessing to have the support of districts in India and Puerto Rico making this grant possible."
Light became friends with fellow Rotary officers in Puerto Rico, later making initial contacts in India during her first visit there in 2010 with fellow Rotarians immunizing children against polio.
Upon her return home, Light began working with clubs in India on projects, including pediatric heart surgeries for terminal children, cataract surgeries, and water and sanitation projects. She then asked if they would be willing to reciprocate with grant funds to feed needy families in West Virginia last year. Light hopes these partnerships will continue to provide much needed assistance to those abroad as well as right here in central West Virginia.
District 7530 Governor Greg Smith of Parkersburg and Mountaineer Food Bank Coordinator Chad Morrison traveled to Buckhannon to join local Rotarians in the special check presentation and turkey purchase. The 15 pallets of turkeys were immediately loaded into Mountaineer Food Bank trucks to be sorted and redistributed in the coming days.
Light thanked Buckhannon Walmart's store manager, Chad McIntyre, for providing the best price possible and preordering and storing the turkeys in a special freezer trailer, and MFB's Chad Morrison for the extra effort in coordinating the special deliveries to area food banks. Rotarians in areas receiving turkeys will be assisting with the actual distribution to families in their communities.