By C.V. Moore
Individuals, businesses and local celebrities came together Monday night for the 25th annual Celebrity Night to show how southern West Virginia “lives united.”
In a variety of restaurants across Raleigh County, volunteers and local celebrities served as wait staff and tips were collected and split between the United Way of Southern West Virginia and the Women’s Resource Center. A number of other fundraisers, including auctions and games at the various locations, raised additional money for the cause.
Margaret Ann O’Neal, executive director of the United Way that serves this region, said seeing the community come together to raise money is humbling.
“It shows that everything that gets done is done for the cause. It is not because of one person; it is because this community comes together to give back. It is awesome,” she said.
Frank Wood, United Way campaign chair for 2013-14, commented, “It has been a good evening to get out and enjoy the fine restaurants in our area. Not only do we get the chance to have good camaraderie with friends and the business community; we are raising the dollars United Way needs to support its many agencies.”
At Bunkers Sports Bar at The Resort at Glade Springs, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. took song requests from an attentive and pleased crowd, playing to his talents to help raise funds.
“It is always good to give back any time you can. I am happy I was asked back for the second year to help out,” he said. Still a crowd pleaser after winning “America’s Got Talent” in 2011, Murphy said the people he meets are proud of the way he represents West Virginia.
Patricia Bailey, director of the Women’s Resource Center, said it is meaningful “to see restaurants still, after 25 years, wanting to participate and people wanting to donate their tips for us.”
She said last year, with a total of $30,000 raised for the agencies, was the biggest turnout to date, but this year’s 25th anniversary might rival that record.
At The Dish in Daniels, a family-oriented crowd gathered for food and karaoke.
Volunteers were willing to pull out all the stops to help the United Way and the Women’s Resource Center. Local bachelor Chas Turner, an employee of United Bank, was auctioned for $350 at Boston Beanery Restaurant and Tavern.
Debby Sizemore, market president at BB&T, said all employees at the Robert C. Byrd Drive and Harper Road locations “love to give back to the community that has given so much to us. We support the United Way and the work they do, and this is a fun way to volunteer.”
“As we wait tables it gives us a chance to raise awareness,” said Andrea Thompson, Women’s Resource Center fundraising committee member. “We get the chance to let people know about us and maybe reach some people who didn’t know this resource was available to them.”
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