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Thursday, May 5, 2016

No sign of chili-ness here; Fourth annual Wheeler family feed brings Fort Scottians together

Friday, February 1, 2013

Despite volunteering the entire day, The Sharing Buckets, Joy O'Neal, left and Gabriella Griffin, 11, are all smiles as the dinner rush hits during the Wheeler Family Chili Feed on Thursday night at Community Community Church. Griffin was one of many youngsters volunteering at Thursday's feed.(Laurie Sisk/Tribune)
A strong sense of community was readily apparent as Fort Scottians gathered to enjoy fellowship, chili, soup and desserts at the Fourth Annual Wheeler Family Chili Feed to benefit The Sharing Bucket/Care to Share at Community Christian Church on Thursday.

The Sharing Bucket, a volunteer organization, assists local cancer patients, survivors and caregivers with expenses such as fuel, transportation, food, utility bills, hotel stays and other items pertaining to treatment.

Highly visible among the small army of volunteers on hand Thursday night were the youth of the Fort Scott community.

Joy O'Neal, of the Sharing Bucket, said KEY Club members from Fort Scott High School helped all throughout the day, along with members of Fort Scott Middle School's PRIDE program.

"That was great," O'Neal said. "I hope they get an idea of why we do this and I hope it makes them respectful of people. It gives them a chance to get out and meet adults that they are never around."

One young woman, Gabriella Griffin, 11, who is home-schooled, volunteered the entire day.

Griffin said she wanted to volunteer because her grandfather, John Findley, is battling leukemia.

"Dancing With Our Stars" contestant and cancer survivor Misty Adams helped for her second year and said she thinks the event is "remarkable."

"The amount of community involved and the amount of support the Wheeler family gives the Sharing Bucket is just phenomenal," Adams said. "It's a great fundraiser and we always have great support from everybody -- inside and outside the group."

Bourbon County Commissioner Allen Warren was one of the many patrons of Thursday's benefit.

"This is great that all these volunteers are willing to pitch in and help people in our community," Warren said.

O'Neal said just before the dinner hour on Thursday she thought the turnout was good and that guests had been generous with their donations.

For the past four years, Don and Claudia Wheeler have organized the event, which raises money to help local cancer patients and their families. Thursday's event raised an estimated $2,313 Claudia Wheeler said.

She said they sold out of everything except an ice-cream sized bucket of chili, which they will take to a family they have been helping. Wheeler said there was a steady stream of guests throughout the day, with a slight lull in the afternoon.

"I've heard nothing but good comments about how awesome Don's chili is today," Wheeler said.

She also said she noticed a lot of new faces at this year's feed, along with some familiar ones.

"It seems like the word is getting out," Wheeler said. "The community really supports this cause. There is such a need ... Just in January alone, Lavetta (Sharing Bucket co-founder Lavetta Simmons) paid out over $1,600 in gas alone."

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