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Faith-based groups see more requests for help as coal companies issue layoffs

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email

CUMBERLAND, Ky. (WYMT) - Coal layoffs are putting a real strain on families who depend on the industry to put food on the table.

With more and more families struggling to make ends meet, faith-based groups are seeing more families turn to them for help.

At Loaves and Fishes Ministry, a food pantry in Cumberland, the number of families requesting food is on the rise.

"Just last night we gave away, the final numbers aren't in, but it's somewhere between 210 and 220 boxes," said John Fitzwater of Loaves and Fishes.

The story is the same at Heritage Ministries in Lynch, which provides home repair services and building materials for a discount or free.

"We typically have up to 50 people on our list that have requested help, and that never really gets smaller," said Heritage director Jeff Sim.

Both missions cite the sluggish economy and coal layoffs as reasons for the increased demand.

"Everyone is feeling the effects of the slowdown, and when things get tight people can't afford to fix up their homes, and when it comes to a critical need like a roof, that's where we come in," said Sim.

The Fitzwaters say their ministry aims to take a desperate situation and replace it with hope.

"Someone can come in here, be down in the dumps, but leave with a smile on their face because somebody loves them, and we might not necessarily know them but that's what we're here for," said Melissa Fitzwater.

No matter how many miners end up getting laid off, the missionaries say they'll be there to meet the physical and spiritual needs of their community.


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