MEOC Fuel Fund Walkathon total donation climbing | New

BIG STONE GAP — Two weeks after the 46th annual Mountain Empire Senior Citizens Walkathon, organizers say donation totals continue to climb.

Marsha Craiger, coordinator of the MEOC’s emergency fuel fund, said Friday that walkathon donations reached $126,832, with more expected from sponsors and walkers. The walkathon was the Emergency Fuel Fund’s main fundraiser, Craiger said, and the fund helped seniors in Wise, Lee and Scott and Norton counties with winter season heating costs during most of five decades. To be eligible for assistance, applicants must be at least 60 years old and have an income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

“We hope to reach our goal of $165,000 by the start of the season,” Craiger said. “A lot of our donors contribute on a monthly basis, so we’ll see those donations coming in throughout the year.”

Craiger said the fund covered $204,000 in heating costs for eligible households during the 2021-22 season. In addition to the walkathon, she said, the MEOC holds an extra effort on Valentine’s Day weekend where area churches and organizations collect donations to cover end-of-season heating costs.

All funds raised are used to pay heating bills or buy fuel oil, coal, heating gas or wood for eligible households, Craiger added.

“The Seniors Emergency Fuel Fund is a community fund in every way,” Craiger said. “Those who live in the community donate and fundraise to help their neighbors. They are people who look up and take care of each other. That’s what we’re doing here. The generosity and spirit of generosity of our community never ceases to amaze me. It’s a truly humbling experience to be a part of this, and we’re so grateful for every donation.

Craiger said donations to the Fuel Fund can be made in person, by mail or online. Send checks to MEOC, Attn: EFF, PO Box 888, Big Stone Gap, Va. 24219. Donations can be brought to the MEOC administrative offices at 1501 Third Ave. E., Big Stone Gap.

Online donations can be made at: Craiger said the website allows donors to make one-time contributions or schedule recurring donations.

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For more information, call MEOC at (276) 523-4202.

Julio V. Miller