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Mahoning Valley wins top prize of $1M



Published: Tue, May 1, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

second harvest food bank

By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Mahoning Valley’s successful effort to win $1 million in grants, the top prize in the Walmart Foundation’s Fighting Hunger Together Facebook campaign, is a product of the compassion and caring of its residents.

“This initiative simply brought to light the plight and need of many of our friends and neighbors and our response to them,” said Michael Iberis, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

“We’ve illustrated to the state and nation that we are caring people, and more importantly, that we’re willing to make the effort to do something about it,” he said.

Iberis and Nancy Voitus, executive director of Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Charities Regional Agency, met informally Monday to discuss ways they would like to see the Walmart grants spent.

“Our intent is to channel the money into programs that we can build and sustain for years. We would like to expand education about nutrition and smart shopping, stretching food dollars better, and more-healthy cooking,” she said.

The education component is very important. Learning to cook from scratch is important in enhancing the nutrition of a meal. That resonates with a lot of people, Iberis said.

The unofficial final results were posted at midnight Monday when voting ended.

The Mahoning Valley, known for the Walmart Facebook campaign as the Youngstown-Warren Area, received 98,690 votes to win the $1 million in grants.

In second and third place respectively, winning $50,000 each, are Johnson City, Tenn., with 66,367 votes, and Fresno, Calif., with 27,929 votes.

Becky Miller, manager of resource development for Second Harvest, said they never imagined winning the competition.

“We feel great, and we’re extremely humbled by the outpouring of support,” she said. “We can’t be more thrilled for this community because it’s going to benefit a lot of people.”

However, before the official winner is announced, the Walmart development team will validate the votes to confirm the Leader Board results. Also, the team will determine which organizations, based on their community impact in fighting hunger, will receive the money, said Kelly Cheeseman, Walmart corporate spokeswoman.

Grant recipients will be announced May 15.

Voitus said she thought all along the Mahoning Valley had a definite chance to win $50,000. But she said: “I was pleasantly surprised at the surge that put us in a position to win $1 million. It means a lot of people and organizations joined together for a common mission. It’s amazing, really.”

What this community has done has been an educational moment for many of its young people because they see that their voices can make a difference when they get behind a common cause. Too many people in the nation feel they don’t have the ability to make a change, Iberis said.


Comments

1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Many thanks to Walmart. I met Sam Walton many years ago and he was a generous and humble man. He inspired me to buy Walmart stock and I continue to support the company.

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2CantStandYa(160 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

And instantly the politicians will begin calling to take part(credit) in the award ceremony.

But seriously, good job and congratulations to Y-town and the Mahoning Valley. Sometimes some regular people can band together and get something good done.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I dont think democratic politicians in the valley will take any credit as they despise WalMart.

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4misterlee(118 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Walmart does do a lot for the poor, like lowering the prevailing wage everywhere they open a store by forcing small businesses out of business, then paying people next to nothing with no benefits. They're also responsible for much of our trade deficit with China. It's great that we're getting this money but it doesn't make me like Walmart.

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5DwightK(1300 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

This would mean more if Wal-Mart paid their employees enough to keep them off food stamps.

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6ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Oh the poor poor small businessman! There is no guarantee that the market will not change when you go into business. Is the well being of the few business owners more important than the well being of the thousands of customers who shop at Wal Mart? This argument is centuries old. It was made in the 1800s when Sears & Roebuck started a mail order business. Again in the 1920s when A&P became the first nationwide chain of grocery stores. Small businesses adapt and continue on.

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7Peregrine(47 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

In my humble opinion, a job at Walmart is better than no job at all. Some money is better than no money.

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8CountryGirl51(207 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Great job Y-Town !! I hope it gets put to good use in helping the people that really need it ! And what a Low blow to the comment about Wal-Mart greeters. You dont know what their situations are all about or why they are working. I say good for them to have a job !!

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9walter_sobchak(1979 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

You people miss the point when blaming Wal-Mart here. They are using their PROFITS to help some charities. Is it better that they do nothing. Better to light one candle than o curse the darkness.

China received most favored nation status again in 1980 when Wal-Mart was a shadow of itself. But, with their business model of low prices, good selection and a comfortable shopping experience, they have grown to the size they are now. So, in the '80s, did you reject China by refusing to start buying their products. I did until there were no choices left. People spoke with their dollars and Wal-Mart just gave us what we demanded. We have met the enemy and he is us.

Now, hopefully the money will be put to good use by educating the "hungry" to make good purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, you can't force people to be good parents. There is no reason with the money we spend on food stamps, WIC programs, and the vast amounts of charity available that anyone should go hungry in the US. The answers to the questions of any able-bodied American is staring back at them in the mirror!

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10Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

gdog4766 @ said I can only imagine what miserable lives the people close to these individuals must live.
I do not think you could get down so low as to imagine what their life is .
24 hours of hate , must be !!ell

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11CongressWatcher(180 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

We should buy asparagus for everyone! Congratulations to all those who participated and got a million dollars back from Walmart's profits. I agree that it was nice of Walmart to give some back to people who need it. It is all of us that decide to shop there. If it was truly a bad store, then we can simply not shop there.

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12FREDSTR(11 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

A big shout out of thanks to the media of the Youngstown area for their promotion and continued coverage of the Walmart donation of $1,000,000.00 being won by Youngstown. Without the media coverage this area would have lost out. Thank you.

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