The frigid days of winter are already upon the communities in the mountainous regions of Appalachia. That’s why each year, we distribute thousands of coats and winter accessories to our partners, such as Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) in McDowell County, and others in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and elsewhere.
Last December, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide hundreds of heavy winter coats which BCPIA distributed to the neediest children and adults in their community.
“We recently had a free giveaway and were able to offer coats, shoes, and hats. I am sure many people would not think of this as a big thing – but it is a big thing in our community,” reported BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson.
In Beattyville, Kentucky, our partner, the Lee County Family Resource Center located in the local elementary school, distributed hundreds of coats to students in the fall. They keep a reserve supply on hand for those cold winter days when a child shows up for school without any kind of coat or jacket.
Through our “Coats for Americans” initiative, we strive to supply our partners with enough coats to meet their ever-increasing demands.
Nothing gives them, and us, more satisfaction than seeing the huge smile on the face of a child when they put on their very own brand-new colorful new coat.
“I want to thank Big Creek People In Action for the winter coats they have given out this year,” said Brandi. “Every time I have gone to Big Creek People In Action they have signs posted that the coats came from Americans Helping Americans®.
2016 has been a year to remember! Because of friends like you, so many smiled with joy.
In West Virginia, 412 veterans received food support; 85 children attended a summer enrichment camp; 34 children attended an afterschool program where they received one-on-one tutoring; and more.
In Georgia, 217 were warmed with our utility assistance program; 414 benefited from a food bank support program; 47 youth learned at a summer enrichment camp; and more.
In Tennessee, 14,459 meals were delivered to hungry children living in rural areas while school was out for the summer; 2,240 individuals benefited from food bank support and the “Neighborly Meals” program for the elderly and disabled, and more.
In Kentucky, 456 children received new pairs of shoes through our Barefeet Program; 23 youth participated in a Youth Leadership Training Program, and more.
Throughout Appalachia, 15,714 children and adults benefited from in-kind donations including backpacks filled with school supplies, winter coats and accessories, blankets, and holiday and summer food distributions.
Watch the video to see all this, and more, that you have helped make possible.
“Thank you for my coat. It is very warm,” says young Daniel, who added a drawing himself wearing a big, puffy coat and the words “happy and warm.”
“Thank you for my coat. It will be very warm for school,” reported “Carlos T.”
“Thank you for the warm coat. It was very nice of you to give me one,” little Kaleigh told us.
And as for Thalia, she sent us a self-portrait also wearing a big, puffy coat with a big smile on her face and one word – “coat.”
These children were all grateful for coats provided to them by Americans Helping Americans® Coats for Americans program last year.
This year, we are planning on shipping out 1,500 coats to children in Appalachian counties in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia where winter is fast approaching.
In fact, as of December 1 the weather forecast in War, West Virginia where Americans Helping Americans® partner Big Creek People in Action(BCPIA) is located, calls for showers and a low temperature of 22 degrees.
Imagine being a child standing at a bus stop waiting to be picked up to go to school in a threadbare, hand-me-down coat – or perhaps even no coat at all.
In Beattyville, Kentucky where our partner there, the Lee County Family Resource Center is located in the town’s elementary school and serves hundreds of students, the conditions for that day are not predicted to be much better – showers with a low temperature of 25 degrees.
And these forecasts are predicted actual temperatures – not including wind chill factors.
Also because we realize that there are adults, some homeless living in the woods and under bridges, also who need to be warm in winter we will be providing our partners with 425 adult size winter coats.
As we were told by BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson who was gratified to be able to provide the children and adults BCPCIA serves after a coat distribution:
“We recently had a free giveaway and were able to offer coats, shoes and hats. I am sure many people would not think of this as a big thing – but it is a big thing in our community.
This was a very harsh winter for people across our nation this year and we struggled through some rough weather conditions here. To know that we were able to offer a warm coat to someone in need was especially gratifying during a winter such as this one.”
In McDowell County, West Virginia one-third of children living there go hungry at night.
A large percentage lack adequate outerwear to keep them warm during the cold West Virginia winters high in the Appalachian Mountains.
Earlier this year, we heard from our partner there, Big Creek People in Action, about what a difference Americans Helping Americans® is making there – thanks to supporters like you.
“We recently had a free giveaway and were able to offer coats, shoes, scarves and hats,” reported BCPIA co-Executive Director Marsha Timpson. “All of those items came to us from Americans Helping Americans®.
“I am sure many people would not think of this as a big thing – but it is a big thing in our community,” she continued. “This was a very harsh winter for people across our nation this year and we struggled through some rough weather conditions here. To know that we were able to offer a warm coat to someone in need was especially gratifying during a winter such as this one.”
Recipients included a grandmother raising SEVEN grandchildren on her own, a young frightened girl who was pregnant with her first child, to children who were so excited at receiving a new coat they could barely contain their glee – and no one was asking them to.
“I am not sure who chose the name for that organization, but it certainly was a winner!” Timpson added. “That is exactly who they are and what they do!”
A report like this is exactly why Americans Helping Americans® is launching “Coats4Americans.” In the month of December, our goal is to provide coats, gloves, hats and scarves to keep more than 2,000 Appalachian children warm this winter.
We’ll launch the campaign on “Giving Tuesday,” on December 1. On that one day, people around the country are asked to remember those most in need. And on that one day, we know our supporters will remember the many children who live today in some of the poorest counties in the country, such as McDowell.
#Coats4Americans. It’s about the numbers. 2,300 heavy winter coats + 2,600 gloves and scarves + 1,300 hats = more than that 2,000 warm children.
#Coats4Americans. It’s about the 2,000 kids.
We wanted you, our supporters, to be among the first to know of our Giving Tuesday Campaign “Coats4Americans.”
Life in Appalachia can be harsh, especially for children.
Going to bed hungry and waking up eager to get to school and a filling nutritious breakfast.
And the situation is exacerbated during the winter months when freezing cold weather sets in and children have no choice but to stand in threadbare coats and worn out shoes waiting for the warmth of the school bus.
In fact, Lee County, Kentucky where Americans Helping Americans® partner Cumberland Mountain Outreach is located has the dubious distinction of being named one of the hardest places to live in the country.
The statistics are disturbing.
Mothers and fathers struggle to provide for their children on a per capita income of less than $19,000 and many are ready, able and eager to work – if there were jobs available. Only 9 percent of children in poverty live in families that have at least one parent who is working full time.
Already this fall, Americans Helping Americans® has distributed hundreds of heavy winter coats, hats, scarves and pairs of gloves so children won’t be shivering at bus stops, and their parents are relieved of the expense when there is barely enough money to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head and the heat and lights on.
We are grateful to our supporters for making this happen, but the stark reality is there are many more out there hoping and waiting.
At a recent coat distribution event held by our partner L.A.M.P. Ministries in Gainesville, Georgia we were heartened by the joy on the faces of hundreds who tried on their coat to make sure it fit properly, and for young boys and girls that there was plenty of room to ensure they wouldn’t outgrow it before spring arrives.
However, we were saddened to see others who arrived too late – disappointed that all the coats were all gone.
But we are not deterred as we will continue, as we have for 30 years, to do all we can to meet the great need throughout Appalachia.
Out of 420 counties in Appalachia, 93 are considered ‘distressed’. In the Appalachian region of Kentucky alone, more than one fourth of residents live below the federal poverty rate; the per capita income there is $18,739. To compound the situation, the unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent. In West Virginia, more than half of the children live in a ‘low-income’ household.
For so many families in Appalachia, day to day life is difficult. And compounding their challenge is the frigid cold of winter.
It’s the children that often suffer the most during the cold months ahead. The children that sleep in homes that let in the cold air. The children that wait outside waiting for the school bus to arrive. The children that often aren’t sure if their dinner table will be full come the end of the week.
That’s why Americans Helping Americans is launching “Coats4Americans”. In the month of December, our goal is to provide coats, gloves, mittens and boots to warm over 2,000 children.
2300 coats. 2600 gloves and scarves. 1300 hats. All to make life a little warmer for these poorest of the poor.
We’ll launch the campaign on “GivingTuesday”, on December 1. On that one day, people around the country are asked to remember those most in need. And on that one day, we know our supporters will remember the many children that today live in some of the poorest counties of our country. The children that need to stay warm in the winter.
#Coats4Americans. It’s about the numbers. 2,300 coats + 2,600 gloves and scarves + 1,300 hats = More than 2,000 warm children