Winter has arrived in the mountains and hollows of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and Tennessee, and elsewhere throughout Appalachia. Thanks to the loyal supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, thousands of children, families, and seniors are prepared. Because of our emergency utility assistance program, hundreds of households who have fallen on hard times this year will receive the extra “hand-up” they need to keep the heat and lights on. In some cases, with families who live in public housing, the program not only prevents them from having their power disconnected, but it saves them from being automatically evicted and becoming homeless. Also this winter, there are homeowners who are safe and warm in the homes they love because of Americans Helping Americans’® home rehabilitation program.
Last winter in Gainesville, Georgia, a grandmother raising four grandchildren lost her job because she had no one to look after her youngest grandchild.
Subsequently she was forced to live in her car because she could not pay her utility bills and her electricity was disconnected.
But with a grant provided by Americans Helping Americans® for emergency utility assistance, our partner there, LAMP Ministries, was able to get her utilities back on and move back into her apartment, as well as find affordable child care for her grandchild so she was able to get her job back.
Working with small grassroots charities who organize volunteers of church and school groups, dozens of roofs are repaired, and drywall and siding are installed. In the case of the elderly and disabled, handicap ramps are built, which allow these individuals, many of whom are veterans, to get in and out of their house no matter the weather outside.
And then there are the children. We can’t bear to think of them standing out at bus stops on cold dark mornings in threadbare hand-me-down coats, or worse, only ragged sweaters and sweatshirts. Because of your generosity, this winter, 4,000 children have received heavy winter coats in their choice of a multitude of colors, which for many of them is their very first brand-new coat. In addition, to help ensure these children are snug in their beds at night, we have also distributed thousands of heavy winter blankets to families so that they will be warm during the harsh winter months.
Each year for more than 20 years, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we have been able to ensure that thousands of children, parents and seniors have a nice turkey meal with all the trimmings over the holiday season.
Among our partners who hosts holiday meals is Big Creek People in Action in distressed McDowell County, West Virginia, which served a total of 962 people last year including 388 children, 574 adults, 90 female heads of households, 162 senior citizens and 20 veterans, according to BCPIA co-executive director Marsha Timpson.
“McDowell County is listed as the most food insecure county in West Virginia with more than 22 percent of residents struggling to find a consistent stream of meals. We served many of these people with a turkey as well as a food box and gifts.
“As each year passes with these parties, I seem to become more sentimental about them. I caught my self looking around at each of the parties (we have three parties in one day) and thinking how we are so intertwined with the families that we were serving for Christmas. The ties that bind us together!”
This year, the holiday is fast approaching and with your help our goal is to more than 6,500 people in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia by providing BCPIA and our other partners with grant funding in order to enable them to purchase the turkeys and food boxes in their own communities, thereby supporting the local economy.
“Many of these families wouldn’t spend the extra money to buy a turkey because of all their other expenses at Christmas,” Marsha continued. “It is a comforting feeling to know that we are able to help them have a good Christmas and lasting memories.”
Please help us ensure that these thousands have a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas this year by giving what you can today.
We would like to acknowledge Brent and Candice Duncil as recipients of the Americans Helping Americans – Helper of the Month award! Congrats Brent and Candice!
Brent and Candice are both teachers in Kentucky who go above and beyond the call of duty every day to make sure their students are excelling in and out of school. Recently, Ms. Duncil noticed a student who would cry every day when it was time to go home. After talking to the boy, she discovered he was sad because he had little food at home, no bed, and no T.V. She contacted our partner, the Lee County Family Resource Center and together, they were able to take the family grocery shopping as well as buy them household items, clothing, and educational toys.
Mr. Duncil is also a volunteer school bus driver. Because he helps out on field trips and weekend routes, he saves the school money so that they can afford to take students on more educational trips and have the funds to provide food.
Together, they are a community-helping force! They started a campaign to help a family raise money to send a loved one to Cancer Centers of America to get treatment. They were able to raise the funds necessary for the family to visit the facility several times. Although the treatment was unsuccessful, Mr. and Mrs. Duncil helped the family through the funeral and organized food to be taken to the home and a dinner after the funeral.
The Duncils are a family who work together, pray together, and help others together. Their oldest son is serving in the Marines and has just returned from Iraq. They are all very giving within their classrooms and within their community. They are raising their children to be respectful, helpful, and kind to others. They give their time, money, and abilities and ask nothing in return. We need more families like the Duncils in our communities. Thank you for dedication!
The Helper of the Month award is designed to show the amazing, wonderful, hard-working, and dedicated people in the Appalachian communities we serve every day. Each month, we’ll be sharing these stories with you in the hopes that you’ll walk away as inspired as we are to do good things in your community!
“Everything is free” at Americans Helping Americans® partner Appalachian Outreach’s “Back-to-School Bash” in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
“This is a fun community event to help kick off the school year,” explained Appalachian Outreach Executive Director Jean-Ann Washam. “All school-age children in Jefferson and Grainger counties can attend and receive a new backpack full of school supplies.”
In addition to the school supplies, there were plenty of fun activities for the children including moon bounces, face painting, games, and plenty of treats such as popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones.
For the parents, who were relieved of the burden of trying to figure out how they were going to pay for their children’s school supplies, several local assistance agencies set up informational tables to inform them of what services might be available to them.
The children were so excited and happy to receive their new school supplies, including first-grader Emma, who upon receiving hers, exclaimed “I can’t wait to start school!”
Kate, a mother of four, commented, “With four kids it is very hard to afford all the school supplies they need. This event is a big help to my family.”
“Thank you for all you do to support Appalachian Outreach and this event,” said Jean-Ann. “Without Americans Helping Americans® many families in our area would struggle to provide needed school supplies for their children.”
The purpose of Americans Helping Americans® partner Raleigh Rescue Mission’s back-to-school school supplies distribution is two-fold, explained the organization’s director of strategic initiatives Christine Montague-Hicks.
First, it provides children with the opportunity to receive all the required school supplies they need to get off to a successful new school year, while sparing their parents the anguish as to how they were going to pay the pencils, paper and more they know their children need.
Secondly, the back-to-school event is designed to provide awareness to members in the community as to the resources that may be available to them as they prepare for the upcoming school year.
Prior to receiving school supplies, students and parents are required to visit at least five vendor tables which provided educational, nutritional, and other useful information that could potentially improve the student’s new school year.
And when they were not collecting schools supplies or gathering useful information, attendees were invited to share their favorite moves on the dance floor or line up to receive face painting.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® we were able to provide the Raleigh Rescue Mission with 150 school kits for elementary school-age children.
“I really appreciate how much my son was helped with the school supplies, backpack included,” stated one parent. “School supplies and bag would have ran about 30-40 bucks I believe.”
Another parent reported, “The backpacks and supplies were really helpful, especially with having multiple kids starting school. I really appreciate it. It took some of the stress of getting my kids prepared off my shoulders.”
And from one of the child advocacy team members participating in the event: “The backpacks have really helped our preschoolers to be able to have something that is theirs and that they can take to their room every night.”
“Ya’ll really did a good job on taking care of those kids,” said one grandmother attending the event. “My grandkids were so happy to get the school supplies and they were very excited.
“God bless you all.”
This year, we were able to provide thousands of children throughout Appalachia with the backpacks and school supplies they need to be prepared from day one of a new school year thanks to our supporters who made it possible. It would not have happened without them.