Calif. group raises thousands to send free pizza to striking W.Va. educators

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A California woman and the head of an educators association is lending support to West Virginia teachers and staff on strike, in the form of free pizza.

A woman named Lita Blanc started a crowdfunding campaign "Pizzas for West Virginia Teachers" Sunday March 4, according to GoFundMe.

According to the United Educators of San Francisco website, Lita Blanc serves as the president of the organization.

In 24 hours, the fund has raised more than $9,600, just hundreds shy of their $10,000 dollar goal, as of 10 a.m. Monday.

Blanc explains on the website that the money will go toward pizza and water for thousands of West Virginia educators protesting at the West Virginia Capitol.

She says educators on the ground have said the food will help more people stay through the day at the Capitol complex and continue to rally for their demands, better insurance rates and better pay.

Monday marks eight days that educators and students have been out of the classroom. Dozens of county superintendents met with lawmakers Friday, declaring that their teachers would return to school Monday if the 5 percent pay raise bill, already introduced by Gov. Jim Justice and passed by the West Virginia House, would pass the West Virginia Senate.

Instead, the West Virginia Senate voted to lower the raise to 4 percent on Saturday. Union leaders immediately said the deal they made with Justice to reopen schools is broken, if the Senate does not pass the 5 percent raise.

The statewide educator strike includes teachers and school service personnel from each of West Virginia's 55 counties.

Blanc says $10,000 will cover three days worth of pizza for about 3,000 educators.

According to the web page, the first shipment of pizzas is expected at noon Monday, March 5.