By BRAD KELLAR
Enough people “liked” Hunt County Shared Ministries (FISH) on Facebook that the agency was able to obtain a big grant from Walmart.
“We’re excited,” said FISH Executive Director Wally Jeffers, upon learning Monday that Walmart had made the official announcement that the agency had been named as a winner in the Walmart 2013 Fighting Hunger Together Facebook Challenge. FISH was one of only five agencies in North Texas invited to participate and has been awarded a $20,000 grant for being among the top 60 agencies that received the most votes through April 30.
“A lot of people voted every day,” Jeffers said.
A total of 158 agencies nationwide, including FISH, were chosen to participate.
“We hope that the organizations benefitting from these funds will be able to continue and expand the positive work they are doing in local communities,” said Julie Gehrki, senior director of the Walmart Foundation. “We want to thank all those who participated in this campaign for their commitment to hunger relief, and we hope that the impact of the grant dollars we award will combine with new volunteers and greater public awareness of this issue to make a lasting impact in communities throughout the country.”
Jeffers had not received confirmation from the company as of Monday afternoon and was not immediately aware of how soon FISH would receive the money.
“It is supposed to be distributed by the end the month,” Jeffers said, thanking everyone who voted for the agency, as well as those who made an extra effort toward FISH reaching the goal. “Chick-fil-A put in a pamphlet every day of the month with their take-out meals.”
Jeffers said the campaign also helped FISH increase the number its fans on Facebook, from 39 to more than 400.
“We got a lot of activity on our Facebook page,” Jeffers said.
Jeffers hopes to use the money to expand the agency’s Meals For At Risk Kids program, which currently is operating in the Greenville Independent School District, to other school districts in the area.