For the second consecutive year, Game Changer is changing the holidays for West Virginians struggling with opioid and substance misuse. During his Monday, October 18, coronavirus response media-briefing, Gov. Jim Justice, along with Game Changer Executive Director Joe Boczek, as well as Deb Harris and Lorrie Smith from Jobs & Hope WV, announced the launch of the second annual West Virginia Game Changer “Change Their Holiday” promotion.
“It’s no secret that I believe our kids are the greatest treasure we have in West Virginia and we need to do everything in our power to make sure that every child experiences every joy that life has to offer,” Justice said.
Justice, who serves as the “Head Coach” of the Game Changer initiative, went on to say, “One of the joys that many of our children look forward to most every year is unwrapping some great presents under the tree on Christmas morning.”
Justice concluded by saying, “Our goal with this promotion is to raise money for families that are recovering from opioid and substance abuse and provide them with what they need to truly enjoy this magical time of year,” Gov. Justice said. “I don’t know how it gets any better than that. I’m so proud of the great work being done by Game Changer, Jobs & Hope, and everyone who is helping to make the Change Their Holiday promotion possible.”
The brainchild of Joe Boczek, last year’s promotion ran from Nov. 17 through Dec. 17, and raised well over $50,000 for families in West Virginia. This included a $15,000 contribution by returning sponsor J. W. Ebert Corporation.
Regarding that particular contribution, while speaking with The West Virginia Daily News last December, Boczek said, “They (J.W. Ebert Corp.) really came through on this. This will help quite a few families this holiday season.”
For this year’s promotion, Jobs & Hope WV, an independent organization operating within the West Virginia Department of Education, will assist Game Changer by helping to identify families across the state who may not be able to provide a holiday for their children. Job & Hope WV is a comprehensive, statewide program that was originally conceived by Justice.
“Governor Justice’s help and support have been immeasurable,” Boczek said during Monday’s briefing. “The passion he shows for promotions like Change Their Holiday is unbelievable.
I also thank West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch, who has been there every single time we have needed him, whether it’s been to offer guidance, an opinion, or just to let us know how much he appreciates our efforts,” Boczek said. “Between the Superintendent and the Governor, the successes seen by Game Changer and Jobs & Hope are directly tied to these two leaders.”
Lorrie Smith, lead coordinator with Jobs & Hope WV, also praised the efforts of both Burch and Justice, adding, “The support of both Governor Justice and Superintendent Burch makes not only the Change Their Holiday promotion possible, but every other program both Jobs & Hope and Game Changer initiates, both together and separately. I am very thankful they share our passion.”
As explained wvgamechanger.com, “You can help bring Christmas joy to West Virginia families recovering from opioid and substance misuse. Please contribute and make a tax-deductible donation. You can also help when you buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger or purchase a Pepsi product at Walmart. And don’t forget the change box at your local ParMar/Mountaineer Mart. Your small change can make a big difference in the lives of children – especially during the holidays.”
In addition to Jobs & Hope WV and the J. W. Ebert Corporation, this year’s partner-sponsors include Par Mar Stores, Pepsi, MVB, Walmart, Mountaineer Mart and Aetna. Personal donations to the Change Their Holiday promotion can also be made by visiting wvgamechanger.com.
On Friday, Oct. 22, First Lady Cathy Justice shared her thoughts regarding Joe Boczek and the Game Changer program.
“I applaud Joe for the dedicated work he is doing to combat addiction with our young people,” the First Lady told The West Virginia Daily News. “We met recently and discussed some of the serious problems our West Virginia students face.”
Justice herself has championed the “Communities In Schools” program across the state, a program which she hopes will one day be present in all 55 counties.
“Hopefully, through the expert assistance of the Hazelden Betty Ford Addiction Treatment programs (a partner-organization of West Virginia Game Changer), great inroads will be made to overcome opioid addiction in our State,” she concluded.
Game Changer will be raising money for the “Change Their Holiday” promotion through Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26.