An off shoot of the pro coal lobby Coal Mining our Future, Coal for Kids began seeking referrals from local school resource centers to help fulfill the needs of low income children in those three counties. Utilizing donations from coal miners and companies and private donors in the region, along with volunteer work from others, the group has purchased coats, shoes, and other items listed on referrals from those schools.
The program has also been aided by work from school resource directors, who make those referrals to Coal for Kids based upon the need of children at their schools.
“The resource directors send us, if this kid needs a pair of shoes, they tell us what size. Probably all the needy kids of Leslie, Perry, and Cordia, they all have new coats,” said Haven King with Coal Mining our Future. “The resource directors do that, and then they go ahead, if they need shoes or a coat, they see the kids and they know the kids that are needy, and they go ahead and send in a referral.”
Once referrals are collected, volunteers go out and purchase items for those children using donated money and then deliver them to the schools.
King explained that Coal for Kids purchases only clothing and food for children in the area, and noted that the organization also runs a backpack program in Leslie County as well.
“When a coal miner gives ten dollars, then that ten dollars is spent directly on a kid,” said King.
King said the organization has spent thousands of dollars since its inception in 2009, and handled an average of more than 220 referrals each month for the past six months. In December, he added, the group filled more than 300 referrals, which is their largest to date, and was able to spend up to $80 per child.
“Just go ahead and do the math. If you’ve got 300 kids at 80 dollars, that’s $24,000, and we’ve spent pretty close to that,” said King.
And King said he expects the number of children benefiting from Coal for Kids will grow in the coming month. The board recently added Riverside Christian Academy near Jackson, and hopes to add all of the schools in Breathitt County soon.
But what makes Coal for Kids a success is the continual donations made by coal miners each month, King said, and gave the employees of one company as an example.
“Take the employees of Bledsoe and Shamrock,” he said. “They send a check every month for $1,500. You do the math, 15 times 12 is a pretty good lick. That is 10 dollars per employee. That makes a statement.”
King said Coal for Kids also hopes to expand service to other counties as well in the future, but so far no concrete plans have been made.
Coal for Kids also accepts donations from the general public as well, and King stressed that every dollar accepted by the organization is spent directly on a local child, and the group has no paid employees. It’s all volunteer work. For more information on how to donate to Coal for Kids, you can contact Natasha Glass at firstname.lastname@example.org.