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Posted November 15, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Philanthropists honored at event

W.Va. lottery winner, dairy HP Hood recognized at luncheon

By Kim Walter

WINCHESTER -- The George Washington Hotel was filled with laughter, tears and Powerball tickets Thursday afternoon as the Tri-State Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals held its annual National Philanthropy Day luncheon.

Every year, the organization recognizes a corporate and an individual philanthropist of the year, and staying true to the award, the individual winner, Randy Smith, passed out Powerball tickets to the roughly 40 people in attendance.

"Now, my initials are on the back, so if you win, I'll be your partner," he said, joking. However, Smith added that if someone did win, he would be a good resource for advice on what to do with the funds and how to go about the winnings from a legal standpoint.

Smith, a 2010 West Virginia lottery winner and Martinsburg W.Va. resident, has donated funds and property to a variety of organizations since winning more than $70 million.

In total, the former magistrate and sheriff of Berkeley County, W.Va. has given away around $9 million to help local nonprofits. Among the list of organizations having benefited from his donations are Martinsburg/Berkeley County Parks and Recreation, the county's sheriff's department and Hospice of the Panhandle.

"This does not match up with the history of lottery winners," said Bradley Snowden, NPD chair, as he introduced Smith. "For everything he's done ... I want to thank Randy."

Maria Lorenson nominated Smith for the award and also spoke to the reasoning that went into him being nominated and ultimately chosen as the winner.

"Randy is a hero of the nonprofit community. He not only gives of his money, but also of himself," she said. "When Randy Smith won the lottery, the community won, too."

Smith described winning the lottery as "divine intervention" and told the audience that had he not won the money on the Sunday he did, he would have put his home into foreclosure that Monday.

"The calls and 'thank-yous' can be overwhelming at times, but of course it's worth it," he said, talking about hearing from those who have directly benefited from his giving. "I'm just trying to get the biggest bang for my buck, and I can do that by helping as many people as possible."

While Smith spoke, several attendees wiped tears away, touched by his continuous generosity. Following his final words, the crowd cheered and rose from their seats.

Also recognized was the corporate philanthropist of the year, Winchester-based dairy operator HP Hood, LLC. The company supports a number of local organizations, including Blue Ridge Hospice, Relay for Life, Boy Scouts, Frederick County Parks and Recreation and Camp Super Kids.

"This company is a shining example for all other businesses in the area," said Snowden.

Bill White, the company's environmental health and safety manager, accepted the award.

"You know, we've got 425 employees in this community, so giving back is very important to us," he said.

The company wasn't even aware that it had been nominated for the award, Smith said, so to find out they had won was "a pleasant surprise."

"I am very proud to work for a company whose name and logo is associated with giving back, and just being a great place to work," he said. "It lets the community know that businesses do care, and we want to help as much as we can."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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