Coal Mining Our Future was formed when five coal companies (James River Coal, TECO, B&W Resources, Pine Branch Coal, and ICG) joined forces to combat a bill in the Kentucky legislature they say would have been detrimental to the industry had it passed. But in the months following the bill’s defeat in the state appropriation committee, the group has been hosting events aimed at helping members of the local community.
Last month several coal miners representing Coal Mining Our Future delivered a pick up truck load of non perishable food items to The Well, a ministry of the New Hope Christian Center in Gorman Hollow that supplies food to area families in need, while this past weekend the group took part in two events - one aimed at providing free medical and dental care and another to help feed needy families in Perry County.
Several representatives of the group helped transport dental chairs and furnished tents, heaters and generators for the Remote Area Medical event held at the Knott County Sportsplex this past Saturday and Sunday, while others took part in a food drive at Leatherwood Elementary Saturday afternoon.
The food drive included approximately $4,500 worth of items purchased by Coal Mining our Future, said Haven King, who has been active with the group since it began earlier this year. Volunteering at the drive were coal miners and their wives, as well as members of the Big Leatherwood Baptist Church. King noted that by the end of the day very little food was left as most all of it had been given away.
The group was also scheduled to donate funds to the senior citizens program in the Cutshin community of Leslie County this week as well as a food donation in Hyden, he added.
Coal companies have played a role in the community in the past, King said, but the people never heard about their efforts. He noted that with Coal Mining Our Future there was a consensus agreement to continue to do good works around the community and do them year round.
“In the past they’ve done some of that, but now what we’ve done we’ve concentrated into Coal Mining Our Future and then we had a meeting and we agreed that we’re going to pursue and do a lot of things with clothes, food and toys because we’ve got a lot of needy people out there,” he said. “And we’re not just in Perry County. We’re going to Leslie County, Owsley County. We’re going to Breathitt and Knott.”
Tentatively beginning in January, the group is planning to begin monthly projects for children in the area in which miners can donate funds on their own each month that will be placed into a fund called Coal Miners for Kids.
“We’ll take this amount of money that these coal miners have donated back to the community and take them out and help needy kids,” said Danny Pelfrey with James River Coal.
Pelfrey added that this particular project is still in the planning stages, but noted all of the money will be going to help local children.
“This is not a one shot deal,” King said of the group’s community efforts, pledging that they will continue to participate in community events each year as they did in the past few months - events such as the Perry County Senior Center’s annual Radio Day and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. “This is something that these companies have set their heads to and we’re going to go ahead and promote.”