A chance to have twice the impact here at home

This is the time of year when a variety of organizations traditionally ask the public for financial support.

In our region, it seems that all of them are working for good causes. Whether they are seeking to provide Christmas gifts for less fortunate children, food for families whose budgets are tight, shelter and clothing for the homeless or just a helping hand to those facing difficult circumstances, the charitable organizations in our area have excellent reputations as well as dedicated leadership and enthusiastic volunteers.

In addition to these groups that make headlines during the holiday season, however, are some organizations that support other community nonprofits year-round. One of those foundations involves several people who I know well — the organization known as Give Belmont County.

Just 10 years ago, this group that began as the Smith-Goshen Rice Enrichment Fund did not exist. Instead, the people who formed it were simple local farmers, businesspeople and landowners who were working hard to support themselves and their families and to do some good along the way.

Then, it was discovered that the ground beneath our feet was rich with natural gas and oil and that new methods of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling would be able to access deep reserves that previously had been unreachable.

A gas and oil boom began, bringing new companies and workers to our area — and leading to some lucrative land leases for many local property owners. Even many residents who own small parcels inside municipalities have been able to strike deals that provided them with signing bonuses and occasional modest royalty checks.

As the local economy began to change, a group of landowners joined with Rice Energy to form the fund, administered by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. These individuals — who are kind, caring and trustworthy people, in my opinion — felt fortunate that they were able to lease their land and, as a result, wanted to give back to the community.

Launched in 2013, the organization now known as Give Belmont County grants local nonprofits the funds they need to accomplish all sorts of important things.

I know this firsthand, since I have had the opportunity to cover several of the group’s check presentations. I have visited local fire departments that received money to buy new equipment.

I have been on hand when members of the fund have provided grants in support of recreation, veterans, health care and basic human needs.

In addition, I serve on the board of directors for the Underground Railroad Museum, which benefited this year from a grant from Give Belmont County to help pay to repair the roof of our building on High Street in Flushing.

Now, Give Belmont County is providing anyone in the region to help the organization lend a hand to even more local nonprofits and good causes.

Give Belmont County is now working with some corporate sponsors — Bechtel Group Foundation, EQT Foundation and Centarus — on a matching donor campaign. Here’s the idea: You donate and they match the amount that you give.

The effort is underway from now until Dec. 31. Every dollar donated to Give Belmont County will be matched — up to a total of $50,000.

Among the committee members who will be responsible for stewardship of those funds are: Natalie Brown, Larry Cain, Lova Ebbert, Gabe Hays, Toby Rice and Neil Rubel. Those of you who know these individuals likely will feel that your gift is in good hands.

Since 2014, this group has given more than $360,000 to more than 50 nonprofits located in or serving Belmont County.

This year alone, more than $80,000 went to organizations such as the St. Clairsville Recreation Center, Belco Works, Wheeling Health Right, Barnesville Hospital, Tri-County Help Center and several others.

Donations are tax deductible, and all gifts go tom meet needs in Belmont County.

To send a gift, make your check payable to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley and specify “GIVE Belmont County” on the memo line. You can then mail it to the Community Foundation office at 1226 Chapline St., Wheeling WV 26003.

If you would like more information about this campaign or any CFOV fund, call Susie Nelson at 304-242-3144 or email her at susie@cfov.org.


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