The Wal-Mart Super Center in Lewisburg has awarded $19,000 in community grants to organizations ranging from the Marshall County High School softball team to the Lewisburg Fire Department.
"This is something that Wal-Mart does every year," explained Janice Pinkerton, community involvement coordinator for the Lewisburg store. "I don't have the exact figures with me, but nationwide it adds up to millions of dollars."
The grants are available to any organization with 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) tax exemption status. Final approval rests with the Wal-Mart home office in Bentonville, Ark., although the local store can assist with the application process.
Applications are also available online.
"The request should be for something that benefits the entire community," Pinkerton pointed out.
This year's recipients include the Lewisburg Fire Department, $1,000; Marshall County Special Olympics, $1,000; Lewisburg Middle School, $1,000; Marshall County Chapter of the American Heart Association, $1,000; First Assembly of God, $1,000; Marshall County High School softball team, $1,000; Christian Friends Ministries, $1,000; and $1,000 each to the Cornersville High School football and basketball teams.
"We usually help out all the schools each year with their Angel Tree and athletic programs," Pinkerton said. "And we do a lot with Cops for Kids and Eastern Star, too."
Cops for Kids and Eastern Star both conduct programs that provide underprivileged children with the kind of Christmas they would otherwise not have. Kids are paired with caring adults and allowed to shop for presents for themselves as well as other family members.
"We also give the city of Lewisburg a grant for the goat festival," Pinkerton said.
As the community involvement coordinator, Pinkerton has seen applicants at both their best and their worst over the years.
"Wal-Mart has certain guidelines that have to be met in order for a grant to be approved," she said. "And even though it's the home office that makes those decisions, I've had some of the people that had their applications turned down really bless me out.
"But I still enjoy doing it, because I enjoy helping people. And I've learned that we have a lot of organizations that do a lot of good in this community. This is just one way that Wal-Mart tries to be a good neighbor. We really help a lot of people in Marshall County."