Realtors group helps children in the community

From left Rachel Valencia, Kay Terrell, Regina Linkinogger, Jackie Sapio, Debbie Douglass, Valerie Young and Geni Astorg (chairperson) with donated items for children. Not pictured is Vicki Viers. Other Realtors who volunteer their time to assist with the committee’s events are Jessie Holmes, Joyce Mather and Judy Newbrough. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The Parkersburg Area Association of Realtors has finalized one of four community projects for 2018 — to collect items for children.

The Community Service Committee is comprised of Realtors from various offices who volunteer their time.

The association’s Hand in Hand Project is a partnership opportunity. The members try to partner with schools on a project to benefit students in need.

Fliers are sent to local real estate offices and local people the association asks to partner with. Most schools have a pantry for students to select items they may need such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, school supplies and food items, which are easy to open and require little to no preparation. This helps the students have food for the weekend.

Elementary, middle and high schools needs are mostly the same except for clothing sizes, the Realtors group said. Seven schools were included in this project.

“We had such an overwhelming response to our project it was heartwarming. Kids are important and letting those less fortunate know they are cared about is important all day everyday,” said Geni Astorg, chairperson of the Realtors Community Service Committee.

Real estate offices and business partners such as banks and home inspectors contributed to the effort. Jim Oppe, owner of Piggly Wiggly, gave a generous amount of non-perishable food items, Astorg said.

Dentists Bowling & Dunn, Eckels, Moore and Tebay provided the group over 600 items for dental hygiene, including toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and rinse.

This committee has been discussing its next project on May 20. Partnering with Pet Supplies Plus in Vienna there will be a food and supplies drive for the Humane Society of Parkersburg at the store. The association is including a raffle for Animal Lives Matter, West Virginia, a newly formed nonprofit targeting preventing animal neglect and educating on animal fostering.

This is the Realtors association’s fourth year and each time the public’s generosity has been overwhelming with food, supplies and monetary donations, Astorg said. HSOP will also have dogs, cats and kittens available for adoption.

The group’s goal is to collect over 2,000 pounds of dog and cat food. Last year they collected nearly 1,400 pounds, during a rainstorm. In 2017, six adoptions were scheduled.

In August the group will host the annual Purse Bingo, which benefits a nonprofit. Each year the support is wonderful, Astorg said. Bingo has benefitted the DAV, CASA, Women’s Shelter, Catholic Charities and many more.

The Realtors association accepts recommendations for nonprofit organizations to benefit and the committee screens the applicants.

Last year the association had its third annual live auction in November and generated over $10,000, which was used for many needy families and individuals who were referred from local real estate offices. This is the largest amount of money the association has ever raised at one event.

“The generosity of our Realtors, brokers, and business partners gives us the support we need to help give back in the communities we serve. Each year we say it will be impossible to beat a large amount but each year the support and generosity is just amazing,” Astorg said.

The local Realtors association assisted 30 individuals, including families, with medical crisis issues to make sure a large family had ample food for Christmas and the following months. Each year the group also takes referrals for at-risk students to make sure they are aware that people care about them, Astorg said.

“The need in our community is great so if we can give a high school student a pair of shoes that fit or a coat and jeans or a backpack to a student with some sweaters and school supplies it is a wonderful feeling. If we can make a difference in some lives the hope is they will pay it forward as did the very first at-risk high school student we assisted three years ago, who graduated, is working and is paying it forward to a younger sibling,” Astorg said.

The local committee has received recognition at the state level from West Virginia Association of Realtors for its dedication and surpassing the volunteer work of much larger groups in the state.

To give awareness to what the committee does it has adopted the slogan: “HAVE A HEART REALTORS HELPING OTHERS.”

The group uses it on every piece of communication it does and it defines what “our purpose is in the communities we serve,” Astorg said.

“Each project we do is about partnerships with real estate offices and partners in the community. It is all about people caring about people, making a difference in as many lives as possible and believing in partnerships with nonprofit organizations,” she said.