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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
In Thursday's column I brazenly predicted Roanoke Valley residents were such rotten pitchers that none would be able to drop me into the tank of a dunking booth at Saturday's Salem Red Sox game.
As with many other matters, I was wrong about that. Before my hour was up, I was soaked from my thinning noggin to my pinky toes.
Old ladies got me and so did pint-sized kids. The insults I hurled no doubt egged them on.
"Which girls baseball team do you play for, sport?" I asked one young whippersnapper who showed up in a baseball jersey.
"Check out the suicide blonde - dyed by her own hand," I announced as one woman wound up.
"This young man is a quarterback," I said as one teenager took aim. "When he tried out for the football team, the coach gave him a quarter and told him, 'Catch the bus back home, kid.' "
I promised one particularly alluring pitcher: "Honey, if you dunk me I'll take you home with me after the game." Coincidentally, it was my wife, Donna.
"You call that a prize?" she shot back.
Ron Adkins of Roanoke County couldn't make the game. But he sent an emissary with a check for $25 for Meals on Wheels and two bars of Irish Spring soap for me. About half of my columns really stink, Adkins explained in an accompanying note.
People who gathered round the booth whooped each time I hit the water. An unofficial tally by one of my laughing friends pegged the number of dunkings at 20.
It was all worth it, though. Thanks to the Red Sox, who rented the booth, the event raised $370 for Meals on Wheels, an organization that relies largely on volunteers to deliver nutritious prepared lunches five days per week to homebound senior citizens from Roanoke to Covington.
That money will cover the cost of 92 meals at $4 each. But it's a drop in the bucket when you consider the Local Office on Aging furnishes an average of 600 meals each weekday to needy seniors in our region all year long.
The organization is under great stress right now. That's because Congress and the White House have failed to agree on future federal budget cuts and revenue increases.
The so-called "sequester" is likely to require $62,000 in cuts to the LOA, according the most recent numbers the agency has received from the Virginia Department for the Aging. Meals on Wheels already has taken some hits.
In the past month they've cut 24 recipients from the Meals on Wheels rolls, said Michele Daley, the LOA's director of nutrition programs. That number could grow as high as 50. Others who want to sign up will have to get on a waiting list.
That makes a June fundraiser the agency's now planning more important than ever. It's called "Let's Do Lunch," and it'll happen at the Kazim Temple ballroom from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 21.
The $15 tickets will buy a ham and turkey sandwich with potato salad, chips, fresh fruit and a Hotel Roanoke chocolate chip cookie. You can pick up the lunches curbside at the LOA's parking lot. They will deliver to downtown offices for lunch orders of five or more.
If you eat in the ballroom, you'll be treated to a concert by William Penn and Eddie Wiggins. Fronting them will be Jane Powell, the internationally known jazz and R&B singer who recently returned to her native Roanoke. She's sung for Queen Elizabeth, opened for Ray Charles and Lou Rawls, and her voice has backed TV commercials and Hollywood movies.
Most importantly, each $15 lunch will cover the funding for three Meals on Wheels for needy seniors.
Last year, the LOA sold 1,953 lunches - enough pay for more than 5,800 Meals on Wheels. Because of added donations, the agency netted just over $40,000 from the program, said Shannon Abell , the LOA's director of senior services.
This year, the agency's goal is $62,000 - enough to make up all the potential cuts the LOA is facing. Please open your hearts, and your wallets, for this worthy cause.
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