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Christmas comes to underprivileged children thanks to coal company

Ronni Lynn Wood, Scott High School
Bags full of wrapped gifts for underprivileged children sit awaiting distribution from Mountain Laurel Coal in Sharples. For six years, the company and its employees have contributed to an annual fund to buy gifts and clothing for needy children and nursing home residents at Christmastime.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Everyone needs a present to open on Christmas, and Mountain Laurel Coal in Sharples, Boone County, made sure that will happen for some of the underprivileged in the area. This year, the company bought and wrapped more than 1,500 gifts for approximately 500 needy children and 120 nursing home residents.

Each person received an outfit of clothes and a pair of shoes or boots as well as anywhere from one to four gifts (depending on price). Roughly $130 dollars was spent per person.

The program is funded in part by the company's employees, who contribute all year long through donations from their payroll. This year, they raised $40,000. The company matched these funds to total slightly more than $80,000.

Mountain Laurel has organized this event since 2006. This year, almost 275 employees and civic volunteers helped with the program. Young volunteers from the Christian Faith Academy and Madison Middle School student council helped wrap gifts.

The company gives gifts to children ages 0-19 in low-income households, covering all of the dependents in the home. It gives to families in Boone, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

Each child sent in a list of toys they wanted for Christmas. The company's employees try their best every year to get everything that's requested.

After the lists were received, seven Mountain Laurel employees and their spouses went around to the stores and bought the gifts. One of the shoppers has been doing this since the program began. Some stores gave the shoppers discounts, making it easier for them to get more for the kids.

The presents were delivered Dec. 16-19. They were sent to the children's schools for the parents to pick up and give out on Christmas. Some of the households with younger children will get a visit from Santa to bring them their gifts.

Throughout the small community of Sharples, people have come together to wrap the presents for this worthy cause. The mine has not only helped the underprivileged, but it also brought the small community together even more. "We really want to thank all of those who have helped out this year and all of the years past," said Terri Harwood, Mountain Laurel's Human Resources Supervisor. "We couldn't do this without the help."


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