Fundraiser sponsors needed

WHEELING – Make-A-Wish and the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling are teaming up to raise funds for each other during its first Wishes & Dishes event.

The fundraiser will allow corporations to sponsor tables during a breakfast slated for 7:30 a.m. Sept. 25 at the kitchen. One can be the title sponsor for $5,000; a presenting sponsor for $2,500; or a supporting sponsor for $1,000. Soup Kitchen Director Becky Shilling Rodocker said she hopes at least $10,000 is raised during the event.

Proceeds will be split evenly between the Soup Kitchen and Make-A-Wish of West Virginia and Greater Pennsylvania.

To become a sponsor or make a general donation, call 304-292-5600.

Leandra Hickman, Make-A-Wish regional manager, said in addition to breakfast, there will be a short presentation, and then a Make-A-Wish child is expected to be surprised with their wish gift.

“A similar event in Erie, Pa., raised $20,000,” Hickman said.

Both organizations rely on donations from individuals and groups. Rodocker said the kitchen’s annual budget is $350,000. Last year the kitchen served 130,000 meals.

Hickman said her Make-A-Wish budget is about the same as the kitchen’s.

The average and most popular wish – a trip to Walt Disney World – costs about $3,500. She estimated in West Virginia alone, 55 children’s wishes will be granted this year.

Both expect the fundraiser to be an enjoyable event for the sponsors and participants because they will be helping to surprise a Make-A-Wish child who has a life-threatening condition.

“It’s a beautiful way to start the day – watching a child get a wish,” Rodocker said.

Hickman said children’s wishes often include a specific gift, a travel destination, an occupation or a celebrity they want to meet.

“If a kid can dream it, we can make it happen,” Hickman said.

Event chairman Larry Blalock, who serves on the board of directors for each organization, said the fundraiser is unique because it is not an evening affair and it does not require a large commitment of time from the sponsors.

“Everybody should be back to work by 8:45 or 9 o’clock. … It’s a joint effort between two of the best charities in the area,” Blalock said.