Carroll County's dynamic duo raises funds for local charities

Wednesday, July 7, 2004
Denise Morris and Torchy Wiedman show off their latest fund-raising effort -- a cookbook filled with recipes by local cooks. CCN / Anna Mathews

Denise Morris and Torchy Wiedman are a dynamic duo when it comes to fundraising efforts.

Together they have raised thousands and thousands of dollars for charitable organizations. And, they do it just because they can.

Just recently, they donated $2,000 the Carroll County Domestic Violence Program at St. John's and another $2,000 to Harvey Fox and Project Save Our Children.

Denise and Torchy operate under the name C.A.R.E. (Community Assistance and Relief Effort).

"C.A.R.E. is an organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to charitable groups within our community," said Denise. "C.A.R.E. was started with the idea that charity begins at home."

She said their fundraising efforts initially began with Relay For Life, the American Cancer Society's signature event.

"We started with Relay three years ago," recalled Denise. "We did the heart association and others. "Then,we decided to make it more local, to have the money stay local."

Torchy said only a portion of funds raised for national organizations stays at home.

"We wanted to see if we could make a difference," she said.

Denise and Torchy have hosted many events, including car washes, bake sales and raffles. They've sold T-shirts and ice-cream-social-shakes, and, sponsored the Charity Bowl-a-Thon at Town and County Lanes.

The Bowl-a-Thon, said Denise, is a lot of fun, with between-the-legs bowling required at times.

"We've hosted it the last three years in the spring," said Torchy. "It's a one-day event. The first year we raised $3,000, the next year it was $4,000, and this year it was $5,000."

"All the money goes into a pot ---- an account," said Denise. "At first, we had no idea where the money would go. We gave to Relay, and to the Great American Bake Sale that supports food banks. Now, our contributions are completely local."

Their generosity is greatly appreciated by those who have benefited.

One such person is Dorothy Crookshank, domestic violence advocate for the Carroll County Domestic Violence Program at St. John's.

"The $2,000 they gave to the program will be used to purchase self-help books for clients, research books for myself and for advertising expenditures," said Crookshank. "I am so grateful. And, I was impressed with them both. They do this totally on their own in their spare time. How many people do that and give to a needy cause? It's extremely appreciated."

Harvey Fox, a father who lost a child to a drunk driver and started the Project Save Our Children campaign to educate youth, also benefited from a $2,000 donation.

"I not only appreciated their gift but they saved my program," said Fox. "I met Denise by chance and got to talking to her about my program. Later that week, when she told me how much they proposed to give, I nearly fell over!"

Fox has hosted several DWI goggle seminars that offer youth an opportunity to drive a golf cart with goggles that simulate driving while drunk. He hopes to purchase a specialized car that is designed for the educational program.

"I know the educational program makes a difference," he said. "I've had a lot of kids comment about their experience."

Denise and Torchy say they have several organizations they are considering for future gifts.

"We are looking at a couple of different things," said Denise. "One is the lady fixing up the old nursing home to see what her needs are. Another is the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank. We've tried to put a board of directors together to help with these decisions, but there's not been much interest."

Both Denise and Torchy work at the Tyson Foods complex in Berryville, Denise as plant accountant and Torchy as a lab technician.

They say Tysons has been tremendously supportive of their efforts and many of their fundraisers are held at the complex.

"We often focus here because we have a built-in base," said Denise.

In her office, Denise has boxes filled with cookbooks, the result of their latest effort to raise money for charity. The cookbooks feature 275 recipes from area contributors, divided and tabbed for easy reference. They are priced at $10 each and are available from either Denise or Torchy.

"There are still some other fundraising things we want to do," said Torchy. "I work six days a week here so it's tough. We want to make a difference in our community. People here are so generous and supportive. It's wonderful doing this."

For more information about C.A.R.E. or to volunteer for an upcoming fundraiser, contact Denise at (870) 423-5513.

"Volunteers are always welcome," said Denise, "and necessary for us to continue to reach our goals."

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