By Ryan Cornell
WINCHESTER -- Local volunteers and fundraisers were recognized at a luncheon on Friday in celebration of National Philanthropy Day.
The Virginia Tri-State Chapter of the Association of Fundraising hosted the event in the George Washington Hotel in Winchester. Chapter President Brad Snowden said it was first celebrated in 1986 when then-President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring Nov. 15 as the holiday.
"It's a very special day," Snowden said. "What makes this day so special is that nobody is required to give of themselves."
He said the event not only recognizes the volunteers and organizations that give back to the community, but also shows just how many opportunities there are to give back.
Although the chapter has been hosting this event for several years, he said this is the first time it has been sold out, attracting about 175 people.
Each year, the chapter recognizes an individual and corporate philanthropist of the year. Last year, W. Randy Smith -- who won the West Virginia lottery and donated much of it to charitable organizations -- was honored along with Winchester dairy operator HP Hood LLC.
The recipients of the award this year are Richard A. Farland II and Nerangis Enterprises Inc.
Nick and Kathy Nerangis, founders of the company, said they were "deeply, deeply, profoundly grateful" for the award.
The couple operate the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and are one of the longest serving McDonalds proprietors in the country.
Nick Nerangis, who personally knew Ray Kroc, echoed a statement the McDonalds founder once told him.
"We don't do business in the community, we do business with the community," Nick Nerangis said. "And it's only logical we give back."
He said they like helping people raise money using their assets like the cinema, which hosts a Nintendo Wii bowling competition on one of its movie screens each summer to benefit the United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
WINC-FM host Barry Lee, who emceed the ceremony, said the two are dedicated to forwarding the mission of many area nonprofits.
"They do more than write a check," he said. "They get down in the trenches and do the hard work as well."
Farland, who was named Individual Philanthropist of the Year, has served on the Board of Trustees for Shenandoah Valley Westminster-Canterbury for more than seven years and gave nearly $25,000 toward community projects and initiatives.
Although people often look to famous billionaires such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as philanthropists, Farland said money isn't a requirement.
"I think the main thing is to have the will and the time and the energy and dedication and you can make things happen," he said. "You gotta find your passion and what you're interested in and volunteer and then work your way right through the process and find a niche where you can add value to whatever organization it is."
The philanthropist, who started down the path when he first sold tickets as a young boy to raise money for his elementary school, said giving back is rewarding for him.
"I would say it's probably, besides my family and my work, the most fulfilling thing that I have in my life," he said.
The 25 individuals nominated by nonprofit and charitable organizations and recognized Friday as distinguished volunteers were: Becky Allanson, Fred Board, George Brinkley, John Burns, Suzanne Conrad, James N. Edwards, Sue Fajer, Mark Grim, David and Paige Gum, Terry Hess, Mary Ann Kaplan, Barry Lee, Joanne Lloyd, Shelda Longerbeam, Dick Masincup, Kathy Mason, Charlotte Miller, Mary Elizabeth Oates, Tia Schultz, Rossi Selzer, Dwayne Shank, Terry Sinclair, Joanne Wadsworth, John Willey and volunteers with the Shenandoah Valley-Westminster Canterbury Resale Shop.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com