Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Poverty in Appalachia: Can you help these people??

Back in the 90's I had a burden to try to help people in Appalachia. I spent some time trying to find a place there that could use children's clothing and toys and was happy to find a center I could help. I sent several packages there over time and one of the families there wrote me back and we kept up a correspondence for a long time. Eventually I got busy with other things and stopped sending packages.
I hadn't thought about that in a long time. Then Sunday I caught an episode of 60 Minutes (  and it really touched me. It was about health care in Appalachia. I guess I figured in this day and age, things were better there, but they are not. They are the same. Why are these people forgotten? You would think in this day and age, there wouldn't be grinding poverty in the US. You hear about "the projects" and African Americans who need help, but not about these people or this area. I think its time to change this!

Diane Sawyer has done a special about the children of the mountains ( and it is heart breaking.

My husband never made much money so we made do when the kids were growing, probably like many other families. Clothing was bought at the Salvation Army or given to us as hand-me-downs from friends, but we always made sure there were new  clothes for Christmas and Easter and filled in whatever else was needed. Sometimes when the kids were little, Christmas toys were things I bought at yard sales and cleaned up, but as they got older, we were able to get new things for them,
just nothing exorbitant. We ate pretty basic but healthy meals, we didn't have the money for dinners out, but we could manage Burger King kid's meals now and then. That being said, our kids never went hungry, and they always had the necessities of life. We didn't take vacations, but enjoyed what was around us - mountains, lakes and a large city nearby with plenty to see and do. I remember my daughter declaring she would never be poor, but I really never considered us poor, just average.

The children of Appalachia are a different story altogether. These families often are three times below the poverty level. Drugs are rampant (an escape from life's woes) and people turn to dealing them to make some kind of money (the moonshine of this day and age). It is heartbreaking. These children hardly have a chance to finish high school, much less go to college. It is an awful cycle of poverty.

This awakening coincides with my own personal quest to get rid of the excess in my home - I, like many, tend to impulse buy and have things I have never used in my house. I also tend to be a bit of a hoarder and have things like fabric, art supplies, books - even toothbrushes and toothpaste that I seem to have collected in abundance because of sale prices. Today I decided to find out if I could send any of these old new things to a place in Appalachia where they could be put to good use. I typed a simple query into google "how to help people in Appalachia" and  found several places that help and take donations. Some are Christian organizations, some are not, but all seem dedicated to help in one way or another. Here are just a few I came upon:

You can send old cell phones, new toiletries, used printer cartridges, books, even scrapbook supplies! They need undies, socks, clothing, computers, instruments, care bundles for newborn babies, small kitchen name it, there is probably a need for it. You can go on work teams to help fix homes or do a VBS with the kids. There is no lack of things to be done. As Americans we usually send our money to outreaches in Africa, the Middle East, Asia etc., but folks, we need help here at home - how can we be the best country in the world with families living like this??

So, I will now get off my soapbox and hope and pray this will encourage you to look at some of these places and find where you can be a light to them.

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