With the arctic blast that struck the country earlier this month, hundreds of low temperature records were broken leaving millions of Americans unprepared for the frigid, bone-chilling cold. This is particularly true in Appalachia where too many children have nothing but threadbare hand-me-downs to keep them warm at the bus stops and too many elderly shiver under thin fleece blankets in their homes as they try to save money on their utility bills by keeping the heat down low.
But thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans®, we were able to provide coats to 1,992 children, 600 adults, and 800 heavy blankets to people through our partners in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina this fall.
Winter Coats ‘Truly a Blessing’ for Hundreds of Children in Kentucky
At the Lee County Family Resource Center in Beattyville, Kentucky, director Sherry Lanham has seen it all. This time of year, it's very common for students to come to school in the dead of winter with just a sweatshirt or thin sweater to keep them warm.
This fall, thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® every child in grades K-5 (and some in grades 6-8) was able to receive a heavy winter coat.
“The coats were such a valuable gift our students,” said Sherry. “One girl was still wearing the one she had gotten last year from Americans Helping Americans® even though it was clearly too small for her now.
“She has very little heat in her home and she and her brother sleep in their coats at night,” Sherry added. “She was overjoyed to get a new coat."
More than 80 percent of the children who attend Beattyville Elementary, where the resource center is located, are living at the poverty level and many never receive a new coat – other than the ones you help us provide.
“Winters in Kentucky can be very cold and snowy and without these coats many of our children would have been waiting for buses in the cold and bad weather. These coats were truly a blessing.”
Turkeys for Families in Appalachia Makes for Happy Holidays for Many
Yesterday, families across the country spent the day at large family gatherings and dinners featuring, of course, a great big turkey in the center of the table.
This year, more than 6,500 needy residents in the distressed Appalachian regions of West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia will benefit from cash grants to our partners to provide turkey meals to individuals and frozen turkeys to families in need.
For many of these families, such as those who live in McDowell County, West Virginia, the choice was to splurge on a holiday dinner, or not blow their grocery budget for the week.
Every year, thanks to our supporters, we are able to provide grant funding to our partners such as Big Creek People in Action (BCPIA) which hosts holiday parties for community members and distributes turkeys and meal boxes for holiday dinners. These dinners provide a sense of normalcy for children and keeps the parents from splurging.
“Many of these families wouldn’t spend the extra money to buy a turkey because of all their other expenses at Christmas,” says BCPIA co-executive director Dyanne Spriggs. “It is a comforting feeling to know that we are able to help them have a good Christmas and lasting memories.”
A Simple Blanket Makes Diane’s Day in Tennessee
In Tennessee, Diane’s husband passed away after a long illness earlier this year. She and her husband had come to our partner Appalachian Outreach for help with repairs to their home and basic necessities such as food and clothing provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
“We developed a friendship with this sweet couple,” said Appalachian Outreach Ministry Coordinator Karrie Foust. “When Diane comes in now we like to take some extra time with her to talk and see how she is doing.”
During a recent visit, Karrie presented her with a new blanket to keep her warm at home.
“She was so happy when we gave her one of the blankets we received from Americans Helping Americans®," said Karrie.
With Christmas coming up, Diane told Karrie, “Now that I am by myself I don’t have anyone to give me presents. Thank you very much for time and for being so nice when I come here.”
“We don’t always realize how something so small can make someone’s day,” reported Karrie. “Thank you Americans Helping Americans® for providing these items for us to share with our families.”