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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Friday, December 21, 2007

McDowell County, WV

Earlier this week I went to Kimbell, WV to the 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Food Bank. Bro. Bubby is the unpaid, volunteer director of said Food Bank and operates on a shoestring. Virtually every penny that goes into the operation is used to get food and other necessities to the most needy of McDowell and Wyoming Counties, WV and a couple of KY counties just across the line. No one gets paid a dime and every volunteer uses their own vehicles, powered by gasoline paid for out of their own pockets to assist the operation.
McDowell County is in the top three of the poorest counties in the entire USA. A large portion of the population is elderly, disabled and includes children and without Bro. Bubby and "his" food bank, people would starve. Literally. The need is just so tremendous.
Food and other supplies all come by way of donations and church people come to the former grocery store, now used as a warehouse, to divvy up the goods and take them to church distribution points. If a person has no way to pick up their supplies, they are delivered to their home. Needless to say, 4-wheel drive is absolutely necessary to gain access in most, if not all, of the hollers.

About 2,500 people will be fed with this shipment and, at Christmas, that's especially welcome. Food, dental supplies, toiletries and more make up the donated supplies.

The county seat is Welch which, in earlier days, was a boom town and boasted more than its fair share of millionaires. Now, it's mostly a shell of its former self and the grim, gray soot that defines any coal town seems especially overwhelming. There's still a lot of coal coming out of southern West Virginia and even southwestern Virginia. Coal is still King and powers this country in ways and places most don't realize. If you ride in a car, truck, bus, cable car, motorcycle, moped or any other vehicle not foot powered...thank a coal miner. If you have electricity...thank a coal miner. If you're reading this on an electric powered computer...thank a coal miner. If you're nice and warm with a thermostat controlled heating system...thank a coal miner. Hardly any of us aren't touched, on a daily basis, by the results of a coal miner.
Being a coal miner means black coal, black dust and black lung. More than several of the men folk in my family have died from black lung and I know many more who now suffer from black lung. It's a nasty death as are all lung illnesses and struggling for breath rips apart both those suffering and those who help the sufferer. But, the jobs pay well, exceptionally well for this part of the country, and allow families to stay together.
Most of the mountain people I've met or know are as tied and connected to these old mountains as a fetus to its mother. We simply cannot imagine living anywhere else; no where else is home. Home being both a physical place and a place of spirit; home where we spend our days while waiting on heaven.
The drive from Thistle Cove Farm to Kimbell is across some of the most rugged mountainous terrain in the Appalachias. West Virginia is the only state that's totally and completely contained in Appalachia and road systems, for the most part, are two lane and with some portions of the road crumbled away due to erosion or coal trucks going over the side.
I take photos, interview and send out press releases and newspaper articles about the 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Food Bank and am hopefull those accounts stir someone's heart and wallet to send a donation. It's an old, old story...people struggling to survive, even exist, and, mostly, dependent upon the kindness of strangers.

Blessings ~ Bro. Bubby ~ volunteers ~ coal ~ donations ~ the Appalachias ~ people who help when they can, how they can, what they can ~


  1. Anonymous9:03 PM EST

    Where can I send donations?

  2. Many thanks for asking; please send donations to

    5 Loaves and 2 Fishes Food Bank
    PO Box 297 Roderfield, WV 24881

    Also, please see an update post 17 January 2009.


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