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City Leaders Eye Festive Holiday Attire for a Good Cause

Photo Provided – In this photo from 2017, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott gets a laugh out of Councilmen Chad Thalman and Ty Thorngate, from left, who donned snazzy holiday suits in celebration of a successful fundraising campaign. Members of Wheeling City Council and some staff members are participating in a similar campaign this year, and many more of them will be wearing silly holiday attire at their Dec. 15 council meeting if they reach a goal of raising $3,000 for the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley’s Operation Toy Lift.

WHEELING – During what promises to be a challenging holiday season for many, officials in the city of Wheeling are looking to bring smiles to people’s faces and joy to local children in need by taking part in a special fundraiser.

This week, Wheeling Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said the Wheeling City Council’s Silly Holiday Suit Fundraiser — through cooperation with the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley — will help give local kids a good holiday despite the lingering COVID-19 pandemic that has threatened to limit traditional social gatherings and that has brought financial hardships to many families of the Ohio Valley.

If city leaders are successful in their fundraising campaign, they promise to don wacky and whimsical holiday outfits during their last regular Wheeling City Council meeting before Christmas.

“I’m happy to announce that several members of Wheeling City Council and a few members of city staff have agreed to potentially wear holiday themed suits and attire to our Dec. 15 council meeting,” Thalman said. “The catch here is: no one is going to wear these holiday themed suits or attire unless we raise $3,000.”

Because of the recent rising number of local coronavirus cases, Wheeling City Council has returned to holding its regular meetings virtually online until further notice. Although the silly holiday attire will be worn (if the campaign is successful) regardless of the Dec. 15 meeting’s format, the vice mayor seemed eager for an opportunity to strut his stuff and display his festive holiday fashion sense at the City-County Building next month.

“So if we raise $3,000, I look forward to seeing several members of city council and city staff wearing the Christmas/holiday themed suits to the city council meeting,” Thalman said. “Hopefully we can hold that council meeting in person in council chambers.”

The entire amount of money raised will go towards purchasing Christmas gifts for local children through the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley’s annual Operation Toy Lift, which is spearheaded by the Wheeling Police Department, the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office and several Ohio Valley businesses. All monetary donations made toward this campaign go toward helping local families during the holiday season, and the major Operation Toy Lift toy collection drive will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 in the Ohio Valley Mall parking lot.

City leaders hope to help the cause by raising at least $3,000 or more in the coming weeks, and the Silly Holiday Suit fundraiser is underway right now.

“Several years ago, Councilman Ty Thorngate and I did this as a fundraiser for the local homeless coalition,” Thalman said. “This time around with COVID, we wanted to make sure the money went to local children.”

Those wishing to donate to the fundraiser can do so by visiting the official website of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. The campaign is listed under the “Give” section as the “Wheeling City Council’s Silly Holiday Suit Fundraiser. Officials noted that 100 percent of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go to local children through Operation Toy Lift.

“We will see silliness and style from some council and city staff members, but we need the people of the Ohio Valley to help out and make it happen by making donations,” Thalman said. “It has been a challenging year for all of us, and this fundraiser may help make a child’s holiday season a little brighter.”

The vice mayor noted that many people have faced unemployment this year because of the pandemic, and many local non-profit organizations — including the United Way — were unable to hold a number of the annual fundraisers that make their missions possible.

“This is just one small way we can do our part and make a difference for our community,” said Thalman, noting that if everyone can help put a smile on a child’s face this holiday season, it makes it all worth it. “I’d like to thank members of city council and the city staff who agreed to take part in this, thank the United Way for helping out and thank everyone in advance for potentially donating.”

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