Despite the challenges still posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the US economy, Appalachian families deserve to sit down to a wonderful holiday feast this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This holiday season, we hope you join us in providing a heartfelt meal to over 6,000 people by making a gift that will be remembered and very much welcomed!
Times have never been tougher for these families.
Three of what are deemed as the “worst” 50 counties in the United States to live in by 24/7 Wall Street – Hancock County, Tennessee (#47), Lee County, Kentucky (#14), and McDowell County, West Virginia (#10), are the homes of our grassroots partners.
It’s highly unlikely that any of our partners located there, Of One Accord in Tennessee, Cumberland Mountain Outreach in Kentucky, and Big Creek People in Action in West Virginia would consider the counties they grew up in, are raising or raised their children to be among the “worst” in the nation.
After all, for the residents living in these undisputed “distressed” Appalachian communities despite the struggles and hardships of living where unemployment is high and good-paying, stable, secure jobs are few and far between – it is for many where they were born and raised and the home that they love.
For Americans living in more affluent and prosperous cities, towns, and suburbs the numbers are staggering:
“Hancock County ranks as one of the worst places to live in the United States,” states the report. “Only 11.2 percent of adults in the county have a bachelor’s degree, about one-third of the national rate.”
The poverty rate in Hancock County is 28.6 percent and the life expectancy at birth is just 70.3 years, nearly nine years below the national average.
Lee County has the distinction of being named as one of “the hardest” places to live in the United States by The New York Times.
“Like many coal-producing regions of the U.S., Lee County is struggling with severe economic and public health problems,” states the 24/7 Wall Street report. “For example, over one-third of the local population live below the poverty line and nearly one in every four households earns less than $10,000 a year.
The poverty rate is 34.6 percent and just 8.3 percent of the county’s residents have a bachelor’s degree. And as with Hancock County, the life expectancy is only 70.1 years.
In McDowell County, located in the heart of Appalachian coal country, the local economy has been decimated with the decline of the American coal mining industry.
“Home to nearly 100,000 people at its peak in 1950, McDowell’s population is now less than 20,000. As of January 2021, 11 percent of the local labor force were unemployed, well above the 6.8 national unemployment rate,” according to the report. “Of those who remain in the county, nearly one in every three live below the poverty line.”
The poverty rate in McDowell County is 33.2 percent and only 5.4 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree. The life expectancy rate in the county is even lower than in Hancock and Lee at 68.6 years.
This is why we want to provide some relief and ease the financial burden on families and the elderly struggling to get by on meager fixed incomes. Thanks to our supporters this holiday season we hope to ship a total of 2,300 boxes of nonperishable food items to our partners in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia – including several hundred to our partners in Hancock, Lee, and McDowell counties.
Each food box can feed a family of four and contains cans of chunk chicken breasts, tuna, assorted vegetables, and more!
Please think about these families who are really struggling right now. Your gift of $36 will provide each of them with a complete holiday meal, ensuring that they can have at least one thing to celebrate this year.