Lottery winner Randy Smith’s generosity is legendary in the Eastern Panhandle.
He’s given out approximately $9 million since purchasing a winning $79 million Power Ball ticket just six years ago.
“My daughter needed some medical attention at the time, and I just never forgot how it felt to get the money I needed for her,” said Smith, who previously served as sheriff and magistrate in Berkeley County.
Since then he’s funded a new recreation center, bought equipment for first responders and even helped out local food pantries.
Now he’s not only helping with flood relief efforts in southern West Virginia, he’s also providing seed money to encourage others to do the same.
“Thank God I never went through anything like these floods where people lost everything. But it is clear the rebuilding process is going to take time and money, so this is a way for us to share in those efforts. I just thought this was the right thing to do,” he said.
And it’s worked out great.
After providing $10,000 to be matched against local donations, the challenge has already exceeded its $20,000 goal.
Approximately $30,000 is on its way, said Michael Whalton, executive director of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation where Smith donated $5 million after opting for a $44 million lump sum payment for his winnings.
The W. Randy Smith Family Fund is responsible for this dollar-matching venture. Flood relief donors include 68 individuals as well as various businesses, clubs and nonprofit organizations, he said.
Most of the money is going to the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster organization to be distributed. A smaller amount is being donated to the Nicholas County Community Foundation to help replace books, supplies and materials at several schools which were heavily damaged by the flood.
People respect Smith’s charitable giving and want to be part of it.
“There is never anything but praise, really high praise, for what Randy has done because it is just amazing. Even before he won the lottery, he was concerned about folks and did what he could to help people who were homeless because they couldn’t afford their rent,” he said.
But that’s not all, because his recent challenge inspired a local middle school student to raise money and that will be used to help pets in the flooded communities.
Ten-year-old Ruby Amores baked and sold cookies to raise $3,208 that will be donated to the Greenbrier Humane Society.
Not unlike Smith, she’s hoping others will be challenged to contribute more money for dogs and cats impacted by the flash floods.
“I have been baking for about a year, and I also like eating cookies so this seemed like the right thing to do,” she said.
Lots of people bought her homemade cookies – delicacies like brownie balls, French butter Madelines and peppermint swirls – as well as treats like cornbread muffins. “I did the cornbread for my pops, who is a diabetic, and so that he could eat stuff too.”
Her cinapple cookies had been popular with the public before when they brought $3,000 at a 4-H fundraising auction for the Berkeley County Youth Fair.
She sold them for 50 cents each, but many folks just wanted to donate.
“One woman gave me $20 and didn’t want any change,” she said.
Family members also volunteered to match the approximately $700 from the bake sale and that substantially increased her final fundraising total.
“We didn’t realize she would sell so much, and we really appreciate all of this community support,” said her father Chris Amores.