BIG STONE GAP — Two weeks after the 46th Annual Mountain Empire Older Citizens Walkathon, organizers say fundraisers are still growing.
Marsha Craiger, coordinator of the MEOC’s Emergency Fuel Fund, said Friday that walkathon donations have reached $126,832, with more expected from corporate sponsors and walkers. The walkathon was the Emergency Fuel Fund’s premier fundraiser, Craiger said, and the fund has helped seniors in Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton counties with winter season heating bills for nearly five decades. To be eligible for assistance, applicants must be at least 60 years old and have an income no higher than 150% of the federal poverty line.
“We’re hoping to hit our goal of $165,000 by the start of the season,” Craiger said. “Many of our donors donate monthly, so we’ll see those donations come in throughout the year.”
Craiger said the fund covered $204,000 in heating bills for eligible households in the 2021-22 season. In addition to the walkathon, she said, the MEOC is hosting a complementary Valentine’s Day weekend fundraiser, with churches and organizations in the area raising funds to help meet heating bills late in the season.
All funds raised go towards paying heating bills or buying oil, coal, heating gas or wood for eligible households, Craiger added.
“The Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly is a community fund in every sense,” Craiger said. “Those who live in the community are donating and raising money to help their neighbors. They are people who look out for and care for each other. We do that here. The generosity and spirit of our community never ceases to amaze me. It is a truly humbling experience to be a part of and we are so grateful for every donation.”
Craiger said Fuel Fund donations can be made in person, through the mail or online. Checks mailed to MEOC, Attn: EFF, PO Box 888, Big Stone Gap, Virginia 24219. Donations can be made to MEOC Administrative Offices, 1501 Third Ave. E. Big stone gap.
Online donations are possible at: https://meoc.networkforgood.com/projects/102989-main-giving-page. Craiger said the site allows donors to make one-time contributions or schedule regular donations.
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For more information, call MEOC at (276) 523-4202.