MASON — In a year when a lot of charitable organizations are struggling, an unlikely group of young men stepped up to help provide Christmas gifts for Bend Area children.
The Wahama White Falcon Football Team recently presented a check for over $2,000 to the Bend Area CARE organization, to help with its annual “Kids for Christmas” program.
The money was raised through an inaugural campaign called “Touchdowns for Toys.” Local businesses and individuals pledged to make a donation for every varsity and junior varsity touchdown scored in the 2020 season.
According to Jodie Roush, a Wahama football coach and CARE member, the idea of the touchdown campaign came from Principal Melissa VanMeter. He said VanMeter saw online that another team had done the pledges, but had donated proceeds to a national organization. Wahama agreed they wanted the money to remain local.
“I was surprised by the amount the team raised,” said CARE member Leonard Koenig. “That was really good for their first year, and it will help tremendously.”
Bend Area CARE usually provides clothes and toys at Christmas to between 50 and 60 children. Members spend anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 that is raised throughout the year.
This year however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding is down, Roush said. Fundraisers normally held throughout the year, such as the catfish tournament, charitable bingo, and Christmas concert at Wahama, were forced to be cancelled.
Luckily, because of the past few successful fundraising years, CARE members will depend on a surplus that will help buy gifts this year, Roush said. He added that will be an issue next year, however, if funds are not replenished.
Koenig said sign-ups for assistance this year are now over, and the group will be helping their top number of 60 children. Donations are still being accepted, and can be given to any CARE member. Donors can also call Koenig at 740-591-2431 to make arrangements.
Those participating in the “Touchdowns for Toys” and making pledges were Ray and LeighAnn Ohlinger, Charles Yonker, Hogg & Zuspan of Mason and Point Pleasant, Mary Kay Consultant Naomi Lanier, Jodie and Andrea Roush doing business as Cowtown Farm, Farmers Bank, Rick and Tanya Handley, Karen Hindel, Sonya Roush, Pete and Betty Burris, Mason County Assessor Ron Hickman, Beauty by Jolisha, and an anonymous donor.
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Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at email@example.com.