Charleston in line for $100,000 in Walmart food bank donation giveaway

A surge of voters has catapulted the Charleston area to its highest position yet in an online contest to determine which communities will share $1.5 million from Wal-Mart for local food banks.

The Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville entry is now No. 5, putting the community in line to win $100,000. The corridor added nearly 20,000 votes overnight, and its entry now has more than 75,000 supporters.

Holding ground is crucial if the community hopes to win a share of the prize money.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to give $1 million to the community that gets the most votes in a contest running on its Facebook page until 7 p.m. Friday. The retail giant will provide $100,000 each to the next five communities.

The Charleston area rocketed through the ranks over the past week but lost ground on Tuesday, falling to No. 8 before picking up a new surge of support.

Mickey Bakst, general manager of Charleston Grill, began rallying the community last week to go online and vote for the community. State Rep. Wendell Gilliard and Sen. Robert Ford spent Tuesday hitting radio and TV stations, trying to get the word out.

The community still lags several thousand votes behind the front-runners. Columbia, which ranks No. 3 in the contest, has more than 235,000 votes. Fresno, Calif., and Salt Lake City hold the top two spots.

Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville is on the list because it was identified as having one of the highest hunger rates in the country, and it is competing with 99 other communities.

Walmart relied on the Food Research and Action Center to come up with the list of 100 communities.