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Elm Grove Civics Seeking Spark Through New Members

Wheeling Councilman Dave Palmer

WHEELING — A longtime service organization in Elm Grove is seeking new members — particularly some young blood — to help provide the kind of spark it needs to continue the tradition of great community work that has become part of its identity for decades.

The Elm Grove Civics has remained active for many years, serving the community through fundraising ventures and helping local non-profit organizations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many of the organization’s regular fundraising activities took a back seat because of social distancing regulations.

As the group’s leadership continues to put the pieces back together and move forward, they are focused on recruiting new volunteers to help open a new chapter for the organization.

Wheeling City Councilman Dave Palmer, who represents Ward 6 — which includes the area of Elm Grove — also serves as vice president of the Elm Grove Civics. He is also in charge of the group’s membership drive.

“COVID has affected the membership dramatically, as with most organizations,” Palmer said. “Many of our members are older, and you can’t blame them for putting their safety in the forefront. We need an influx of younger members to help this great organization continue to serve our community. While our name and location is in Elm Grove, we have no residency requirements. All are welcome to join and participate.”

Palmer said the group’s most recent election of officers saw Anne Ricker being re-elected as president, with Palmer taking the VP post and Lexi Ricker-Smith serving as treasurer. Last spring, Ricker-Smith had noted that one of the group’s most popular activities — bingo — had to be put on hold because of the pandemic and social distancing regulations.

Regular bingo sessions are still on hold, Palmer said this week.

“We are hopeful to have bingo up and running in early 2022,” Palmer said. “All proceeds from bingo are donated back to eligible 501(c)3 nonprofits, as well as local schools and sports teams.”

Another community tradition spearheaded by the Elm Grove Civics was the annual neighborhood fireworks, which also have been moved to the back burner because of the slowdown of fundraising activities.

Officials noted that fireworks cost around $7,000 per year to sponsor. Elm Grove Civics typically did so on the Thursday prior to the Fourth of July every year … until last year.

“Professional fireworks displays have been absent from Elm Grove for the past two years,” Palmer noted. “With a successful membership drive, it is my goal to have them return in the summer of 2022.”

Another fundraising option for the Elm Grove Civics is rentals of its hall. However, many booking dates have remained open, Palmer explained.

“Hall rentals have been slow, and I encourage folks to call Lexi Ricker-Smith and reserve it for an event,” he said. “We have done our best to keep rental rates low, but to be honest, even though we have been dormant, the utility bills continue to soar.”

As officials seek more community support and participation, officers are looking to new ways to help bring in some money to cover basic operating costs.

“I’m planning a steak fry for early spring to help assist the Civics with some of our bills and to ensure we can continue to serve the community,” Palmer said.

Anyone wishing to make donations or to volunteer to help the Elm Grove Civics Association is urged to call 304-243-9028 for additional information.

For rental of the hall, call Ricker-Smith at 304-905-2737.

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