CHARLESTON, W.Va.– Standing in front of the WV Oil Marketers and Grocers Association in Charleston, tears filled the eyes of Mary White after a check was revealed to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia on Friday written for $75,083.

Charlie Houck, Traci Nelson and Mary White pose for a photo with friends and family in front of the OMEGA building in Charleston.

You might’ve seen the colorful paper flowers inside of nearly 500 OMEGA-member convenience and grocery stores throughout the state in the past few months. These flowers were sold for one dollar apiece from April to May as a part of the “Every Child Deserves A Loving Home Campaign”.

The campaign raises funds to help children across the Mountain State who are dealing with family crises.

White is the chief operating director of the Children’s Home Society and was overwhelmed by the amount of money raised for her organization.

“I’m so filled with emotion,” she said. “It’s very difficult not to cry and be able to tell people how much we appreciate their efforts, because these are the folks who change the lives of children every day in West Virginia.”

The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia is a private, non-profit child welfare organization that was founded in 1896 and is made up of employees, foster families, adoptive families, volunteers, Board members, donors, supporters and friends.

White said she is extremely grateful for the stores that worked to support West Virginia’s children.

“All of these convenient store clerks and the managers they put their heart and soul into it, and they know they’re helping children, and they work hard at it. So there’s a lot of good emotion today, and we know we’re going to do a lot of good work with the funds they’ve raised for us, and they’re just amazing folks. We’re just so appreciative,” she said.

Some of the current programs supported by Children’s Home Society are adoption, foster care, in-home and in-community services for children and families, emergency shelter care and much more. White said the funding will go directly towards these efforts.

“One of our promises to the OMEGA folks is that money raised in that community stays in that community, and we are a state-wide organization, so we make sure that it gets divided equally across the state,” she said. “So it’s helping children in the communities where OMEGA has stores.”

Traci Nelson is the president of OMEGA and said she was overjoyed to give the money to Children’s Home Society.

“I’m on top of the world, and we know that this money helps their adoption programs, it helps their mentoring program, their foster care programs.” she said. “By raising this money it also brings awareness to what they do, because a lot of people don’t know what Children’s Home Society is.”

OMEGA was organized to promote and improve the business interests of those engaged in petroleum marketing, retail grocery and convenience store industries within West Virginia, and most members of OMEGA are native West Virginia businesses.

One local business went above and beyond to raise for the “Every Child Deserves A Loving Home Campaign”. Little General Stores sold $41,000 worth of paper flowers in the one month they were for sale.

Charlie Houck, public representative, said supporting Children’s Home Society was wonderful because of the great cause it is.

“Our ability to support them is so special and the fact that we were able to get $41,000 dollars from our customers at a dollar at a time justs tells you a lot about the people of West Virginia and how supportive they are,” he said.

Nelson added that for her, supporting the cause of helping children was her favorite thing OMEGA does.

“It’s the best thing we do,” she said. “I don’t know of anythign that we do that brings us as much fullfillment and joy as what we do with them.”

White had a message for the people who purchased flowers during April and May: “To every West Virginian– everyone can do something, and even if it’s just to purchase one flower or 10, you have made an impact because you contributed to this total number.”

OMEGA has raised more than $2.5 million over the last seven years for the “Every Child Deserves A Loving Home Campaign” as well as other efforts that help West Virginia Children in need. This was the eighth year that they have supported Children’s Home Society.

Story by Jordyn Johnson

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