Christian Appalachian Project, which is based in the Gray community of Knox County, has made it part of its mission to aid struggling coal mining families, and others in need in Harlan County.
Four tractor-trailer trucks loaded with food and personal hygiene products rolled out from CAP’s Operation Sharing facility in Knox County early Tuesday morning.
The trucks were headed to the Harlan Center where volunteers distributed the items.
The initial goal was to assist local miners and families affected when Blackjewel declared bankruptcy on July 1. Approximately 600 miners across Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming were left without jobs.
When the final paychecks to the miners bounced, a group of miners took to the CSX tracks in Cumberland to block a train hauling coal they had mined.
Working with multiple charities including Feed the Children, International Aid and Hands of Hope, CAP collected sufficient items to aid 450 families.
“When we saw the story on the news about the miners, we wanted to help,” said Ben Ridner, manager of CAP’s Operation Sharing Program in Corbin, Ky. “CAP has been serving people in need in Appalachia for more than 50 years, we realized we had an opportunity to help the miners but also to expand those efforts to help others in the community.”
Two distributions were held Tuesday.
At 10 a.m., distribution of donations to affected Blackjewel miners began.
Though the miners did not have to live in Harlan County to qualify, they did have to bring a paycheck stub from Blackjewel and a photo ID.
Any remaining donations after the miners had been served were made available to the general public in need.
Jeff Burchett, Director of Operation Sharing, said, at the moment the organization only has plans to do this once.
“We may do it again. It is just according to what the need may be,” Burchett said.
More information about CAP is available online at www.christianapp.org.