The seventh year of an annual Thanksgiving tradition will once again be a consistency and skill competition, as the annual Thanksgiving charity basketball game returns late next week.
The game will take place at 6 p.m. on November 7 at the Highlands Sports Complex. In the large gymnasium, up to 12 players at a time will decide to shoot from the foul line or the three point line, with a player’s score contributing to their team’s total. The event is a ministry of the Apostolic Temple of Bethlehem, where sponsored players raise funds for the church’s Thanksgiving Food Basket giveaway.
Pastor Darrell Cummings said he relishes the opportunity to engage body and soul every year.
“I hope we have fun, where we can come, laugh and do… physical exercise, but also help those who need it,” he said. “We’ve been trying to help those in need this time of year for 31 years, and for the past seven years we’ve been doing it through a basketball event like this.
“We are very, very grateful. I don’t know if this is happening all over the world, but it happens in the Ohio Valley that people all over the place – we have teachers, we have principals, we have senators, mayors, members of the Congress – who come together to help those they may not even know.
Several local celebrities attended, including newly appointed State Senator Owens Brown, D-Ohio; the Mayor of Wheeling, Glenn Elliott; financial advisor Walker Holloway; and Shalom Rabbi Joshua Lief Temple. Ricky Moore, Sporting Director of the Highlands Sports Complex, and WTOV9 reporter Ed DiOrio were also in attendance for Thursday’s announcement.
One thing each man had in common was their assurance that the sponsorships and donations made during the shooting would help regardless of their own performance on the pitch.
“I am especially grateful that it is not my responsibility to make a hit with the total dollars raised,” Lief joked. “I’ve always tried to help and donate to this cause because I think it’s a very just cause,” Brown added. “This will be my first year here. I hope I can bring other people with me to watch me throw bricks.
The Thanksgiving Food Basket gift is another annual tradition for the Temple, where tens to several hundred people can receive food baskets to feed their families not just for the holidays, but for several days. The tradition began in 1990 and has grown every year, helping people across the Ohio Valley.
Cummings said spending on Thanksgiving meal purchases has increased significantly this year.
“But we are confident that we will get there,” Cummings added, “and that we will use whatever we can to donate, as we do every Thanksgiving, not just turkey and different foods to go along with the meals, but also clothes, shoes, coats and objects.
Cummings expressed gratitude to the Highlands Sports Complex for allowing them to host the event, which in previous years had been held at the Wheeling University Gymnasium. Due to the lingering effects of COVID, Cummings said, public activities such as fundraising can no longer take place on campus.
Tickets are available at the Apostolic Temple in Bethlehem, the Apoltolic Faith Assembly in Shiloh, or from one of the players. Tickets are also available at the door the same day. Those interested in sponsorship or those with questions should call 304-233-8899.