Casino Tourney Turns up Tons of Toys for Kids

Guests at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack bet on Christmas for a good cause during the “12 Tournaments of Christmas” to collect toy donations for the Salvation Army’s annual toy drive.

Maj. John Blevins, corps officer for the Wheeling Salvation Army, accepted the gifts on Tuesday at the casino.

According to Blevins, the collected toys will stay in Ohio County. The Salvation Army will distribute them Monday to those families that signed up in October.

He said the casino’s efforts to “give back” are a great “benefit to the local community.”

During the 12 Tournaments of Christmas from Dec. 1-12, casino guests who donated a $20 new, unwrapped toy received a Wheeling Island ornament and a seat in that day’s poker, blackjack, racing or slot tournament. The casino then provided the tournament prize money.

Osi Imomoh, Wheeling Island president and general manager, plans to make the event a new Wheeling Island gaming tradition. He decided to initiate the project after successfully implementing a similar effort during his previous job.

“Giving back to the community you live in is extremely important,” Imomoh said.

Guests, as well as casino employees, donated around 200 toys to the cause.

“That’s amazing,” Imomoh said of the number. “We hope to continue to support many charities through these tournaments and share the spirit of Christmas.”

According to Blevins, the Salvation Army could still use toys for older kids averaging ages 11-13. He said there is also still a need at the shelter for blankets and full sheets.

Donations can be dropped off at the 16th Street shelter in Wheeling.