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Carter Caves raises $7,000 for hungry children

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 fundraising efforts hard across the board. This was no different for the Carter Caves backpack program than it has been for any other charitable effort. But park manager Chris Perry and the crew at Carter Caves weren’t going to let the pandemic stop them from helping feed hungry children in the community. 

Perry apologized to school family resource center staff for the three tables of donated food they were able to collect this year, down significantly from the ten tables they were able to fill with donated food last year. But, he noted, the park was able to raise $7,000 in cash donations with their social media fund raiser – $1,000 more than their $6,000 goal. He said he hoped that extra cash would help make up for the drop in donations. 

The cancellation of the Haunted Trail event hurt their collection efforts, Perry said. That event not only served as a fundraiser for the backpack program in past years, with entry fees going toward the program, it also brought in a lot of food donations. To encourage donations, the park gave discounts on admission for each canned or boxed food item donated. This year that fundraising was shunted to social media, with impressive results even if the food donations were down. 

What touched Perry more than the online donations, though, were the children who would approach him to donate their money to the park’s efforts. 

“A lot of kids donated this year,” he said, explaining that children would approach him at the grocery store to give him spare change and other money, or to donate food. “They were worried about their classmates going hungry.” 

Perry also thanked Zornes Home Improvement, in Olive Hill, and All American Graphics, in Grayson, for donating backpacks and drawstring bags, respectively. Those bags will be filled with the food items that are sent home with students. 

Perry said the park has raised approximately $20,000 in cash donations for the family resource centers over the past three years, in addition to the food donations. 

“We appreciate you letting us do this,” Perry said, adding that staff were always, “tickled to be able to help.” 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

School resource center staff pose with Carter Caves park manager Chris Perry, Carter County schools director of personnel Ryan Tomolonis, and food collected by Carter Caves staff for their annual backpack program. Family resource center staff include Karen Adkins, West Carter High and Middle, Beck Walker, East Carter High and Middle, Missy Lowe, Star and Heritage Elementary Schools, David Gee, Tygart Creek and Carter City Elementary Schools, Donna Lucas, Prichard Elementary, and Donna Stamper, Olive Hill Elementary. (Photo by Jeremy D. Wells, Carter County Times)

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