CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 4 UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc., Cross Lanes Walmart and West Virginia Radio Corporation will be holding the second-annual Circle of Hope for Charleston-based Mountain Mission. Several local celebrities, including 2006 World's Strongest Man Phil Pfister, Pro Bass Fisherman Jeremy Starks, Secretary of State Natalie Tenant, and Governor and Mrs. Manchin will participate in the two-day food drive.
In addition, eight elementary schools have been competing over the past two weeks to see if they can collect more food than strongman Pfister can lift. Pfister will try to lift the food on Friday, December 4 at West Virginia Radio Corporation's parking lot.
Through the "Circle of Hope" food drive, being held Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5, more than $20,000 in cash and several trailers filled with food are expected to be collected to help thousands of area families pay bills, put food on their tables and clothes on their backs this holiday season.
"Due to the current economic downtown, we are witnessing a significant increase in individuals and families seeking our assistance," said John Roberts, Executive Director of Mountain Mission. "I am overwhelmed that these organizations stepped up to help without even being asked."
Roberts says it takes $100 to feed a family of four at Christmas and his organization will provide food for close to 900 families this holiday season.
UniCare Health Plans, West Virginia's largest Medicaid Manage Care Organization, and Walmart have donated $5,000 each to the event. "UniCare has collaborated with Mountain Mission for many years and given the difficult economic challenges so many are experiencing we felt now more than ever that this was the right time to help those in our community," said Mitch Collins, UniCare's Director of Medicaid Field Operations.
Saturday's food drive will move to the Cross Lanes Walmart. A "Mountain of Food" will be erected inside the store and shoppers will be encouraged to purchase the food for Mountain Mission.
"We are proud to work again with John and his team at Mountain Mission," said Rob Greenleaf, the store manager for the Cross Lanes Walmart. "With this year being especially tough, we wanted to partner with an organization that does great work in the community."
Several other organizations have agreed to make a cash contribution to the Circle of Hope event:
Friday, December 4, 2009 at West Virginia Radio Corporation, 1111 Virginia Street -- 6:00 a.m. -- 6:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. -- 9:00 a.m. -- Jeremy Starks, professional bass fisherman
9:00 a.m. -- 10:00 a.m. -- Secretary of State Natalie Tenant
10:30 a.m. -- 2:00 p.m. -- 2006 World's Strongest Man Phil Pfister attempting to lift donated food from 11 elementary schools
4:30 p.m. -- Governor and Mrs. Manchin
Saturday, December 5, 2009 - Cross Lanes Walmart - 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. -- Mountain of Food
10:00 a.m. -- Santa Claus
Roberts says his organization will also accept cash and the following items: Boxed turkey dressing, sweet potatoes, fruit cocktail, 10-pound bag of potatoes, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, five-pound bags of sugar and brownie mix. Mountain Mission will have staff available to provide receipts. Mountain Mission is a 501(c)3 charitable organization that helps more than 9,000 people annually.
-- WV Radio (through donations made through the Trans-Siberian Orchestra performance in Charleston) $8,046; Shoney's (Kanawha Boulevard) $1,000; Good Shepherd Mortuary $1,000; Trend Micro $1,000; and The Manahan Group $500
SOURCE UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc.