Charity Basketball Game To Benefit Bethlehem Apostolic Temple Food Drive in Wheeling

The Bethlehem Apostolic Temple will hold its third-annual charity basketball game this weekend to help raise funds for its Thanksgiving food basket giveaway.

The event is set for 6 p.m. Sunday at Wheeling Jesuit University, and the Rev. Darrell Cummings encourages everyone to bring a can of food and “have a ball of fun.”

The church’s Thanksgiving food giveaway provided more than 300 Wheeling-area families with holiday meals last year. This year’s giveaway is slated for Nov. 18, and Cummings said the church’s recent acquisition of the North Wheeling Dream Center has helped the church serve more people than ever before.

“We bought the Dream Center so that we could help more people at a (faster) pace. In the 25 years of doing this, lines would be down several blocks and it would take us three or four hours to help the people. If the weather was bad, people would be standing in the cold or standing in the rain, so we stepped out on faith and bought the Dream Center, where we are able to get hundreds of people in here at a time” Cummings said.

Cummings is looking forward to this year’s charity game, noting organizers have made a few changes.

“This game is going to be different than what we have done in the last two years,” he said. “We’ve played an outside team, the Harlem Ambassadors. This year, it will be community playing against community.”

Players include West Virginia Delegate Shawn Fluharty, D-Ohio; professional fighter Johnny Haught; financial advisor Walker Holloway and Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott.

“We are very honored and very thrilled that our mayor is going to be one of the players in the game, as well as several policemen and we’re hoping for several firemen and several (sheriff’s deputies),” Cummings said.

“I used to play basketball in high school, (but) I’m not much of a player anymore,” Elliott admitted. “However, I’m willing to embarrass myself a little bit out there on the court for a good cause.”

Elliott said he and Fluharty will be practicing before the game and that he is excited to take part in the event. Also included at the event are games for children and comedic acts provided by the players, and music for the game will be provided by the Wheeling Park High School band.

Members of the community are not only encouraged to attend the basketball game, but to contribute in other ways, as well.

“If anyone in the community would like to donate, we give out clothes, shoes, winter coats and school supplies. Any of those things would be a great help,” Cummings said, noting items can be brought to the game in WJU’s McDonough Center gymnasium.

The basketball game is also in need of more celebrity players and local sponsors.

“The idea is to generate interest in the game and drive a lot of sponsorship and attendance to it,” Elliott said.

Cummings said the church’s charitable efforts would not be possible without help from people all over the Ohio Valley.

“This is a community event (and) it couldn’t be done without the community. Bethlehem Temple has been in existence since 1932, and over that time we’ve tried to do what we could to make a difference,” Cummings said.

Elliott hopes to see all members of the community working together to help the city’s hungry residents.

“I hope the community steps up and supports this event. I hope people buy sponsorships and (that) it is well attended,” he said.