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Linton honored at White House for Christmas Cash for Kids work

December 18, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • In this November 2010 file photo, Santa, portrayed by Norm Slemenda, general manager of Prettyman Broadcasting, poses with M. Rebecca "Becky" Linton, regional president of City National Bank during a press conference about Christmas Cash for Kids, an annual fundraising effort.
Herald-Mail file photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The messages left for the City National Bank regional president piled up Thursday when she was being honored at the White House for her leadership with the community gift-buying program for children in need.

Recognized as a "Champion of Change" as part of President Obama's Winning the Future initiative, Linton said she had the option to stay in Washington on Friday for a tour of the White House.

"But I had to be back here because you can see the chaos ... It's like Santa's workshop. I'm trying to get all these things taken care of," Linton said Friday in an interview at her office in Martinsburg.  

Now in its sixth year, Christmas Cash For Kids is a partnership between United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, City National Bank, Prettyman Broadcasting and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, or WVDHHR.

"I represented everyone because I couldn't do this by myself," Linton said of the White House honor.

To be one of 10 people recognized at the White House was nice, but Linton glowed most when revealing $22,000 had been raised as of Friday afternoon for this year's campaign, which continues through this week.

"It's not about me, it's not about the White House, it's all about the kids," Linton said.

Fundraising for this year's program, which will benefit about 600 children ages 16 and younger, is a little behind last year's effort, but Linton is hopeful about additional donations.

By Friday afternoon, enough money was raised to spend $35 on each child, Linton calculated.

The gifts are typically a combination of toys and clothing, she said. The gifts are purchased through the United Way, which provides a sales-tax exemption.

The children identified by WVDHHR for Christmas Cash for Kids have not been registered with other programs such as Toys for Tots and The Salvation Army, Linton said.   

Fundraising efforts this year were boosted by a $7,200 contribution by The Living Room church and Linton said the all-volunteer program couldn't be done without the publicity provided by Prettyman Broadcasting Co., which owns three area radio stations.

Linton is quick to deflect any credit for the program's success, but United Way Executive Director Jan Callen said she has been "the driving force" behind it. Callen said Linton ensured more than 2,000 children have had a Christmas in the first five years of the program by chairing planning meetings, organizing fundraising, shopping for toys and clothing, and packaging the presents.

"Those in need, whether they are organizations or individuals, find a listening heart with this local banker," Callen wrote in his nomination of Linton for the recognition.

"While some executives and managers find themselves too busy to be bothered with anything other than their business, Becky realizes that caring is part of her business and has been recognized in our community as a 'Woman of Distinction.'" The latter was an honor Linton received in 2010 from the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital.

DHHR Community Service Manager Kathy Bradley said in a news release that Linton's passion for the program and children in need has been key to the program's great impact.

"Our community is a better place to celebrate Christmas because of Becky," Bradley said.

Donations to Christmas Cash For Kids can be dropped off at any area City National Bank branch office or ROCS convenience store. Checks may be made payable to the United Way.

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