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.