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Chamber of Commerce wins food-drive competition

The Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce was declared the winner of the first annual Governor’s Bowl Food & Food Drive in the medium chamber category on Monday.

The Chamber, in partnership with its members, raised more than 105,000 pounds of food for neighbors in need during the challenge – more than any other chamber of commerce in Virginia. The chambers competed based on the size of their membership and the number of pounds raised. Two other Virginia chambers won in the small and large categories.

The Governor’s Bowl Food & Fund Drive was commissioned by Gov.Bob McDonnell and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce earlier this year. The objective was to engage Virginia’s chambers of commerce, businesses and state agencies in friendly competition from Memorial Day to Independence Day to raise food and funds for food banks during the summer, a time when donations dramatically decline.

A significant factor in Greater Augusta’s winning effort was a major contribution from SunTrust Bank in Staunton. Greater Augusta Regional Chamber President Linda Hershey worked with Staunton’s SunTrust Bank City President, Laurel Cartwright, to initiate a challenge to all Greater Augusta Regional Chamber members to match a $10,000 contribution from the Bank. A host of area businesses stepped up to the challenge, and the final result was a financial contribution of $25,630, plus 2,793 pounds in food donations – the equivalent of 105,315 pounds of food.

“We are ecstatic for the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce and immensely grateful for their support,” said Blue Ridge Area Food Bank CEO Larry Zippin. “Linda Hershey and her team have been dedicated to championing this effort since the Governor issued his challenge. Their hard work paid off and will make an enormous impact in the lives of thousands of our neighbors struggling with hunger.”

“We are overwhelmed and overjoyed at this team effort accomplishment and what it means to our members and the lives it will touch in our community,” said Hershey. “Our company slogan is Your Success is Our Business and in this case, the success is shared by our members who are devoted, compassionate and big supporters of The Food Bank!”

In all, 12 chambers of commerce and 38 state agencies in the Blue Ridge region competed in the Governor’s Bowl, raising a total of $48,000 in cash contributions and more than 45,000 pounds of food, enough to provide 230,000 meals to neighbors in need.

Other Blue Ridge area chambers that participated in the Governor’s Bowl included: the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce; the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce; the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce; the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce; the Luray-Page Chamber of Commerce; the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce; the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce; the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce; the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce; the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Appomattox County Chamber of Commerce.

Local state agencies to contribute the most donations include Staunton’s VDOT District Office with more than 5,800 pounds of food and the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center with more than 4,700 pounds.

“The Governor’s Bowl has been effective in curbing our usual summer slump,” Zippin said, “and we are filled with gratitude for all of the chambers of commerce, state agencies and businesses that generously supported us this summer. Efforts such as this one are vital to our ability to feed a growing number of people seeking our help each month.”

The governor will present the Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce with a one-of-a-kind handcrafted ceramic bowl created by potters Rick Erickson and Kendra Spicer of Farmville.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press