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When you search for ‘Appalachian Region’, your results often yield photographs of picturesque tree covered mountains that span nearly 205,000 square miles. You’d never know that behind the beautiful scenery lies one of the nation’s poorest regions. In the past, this region was heavily rooted in the coal mining industry, but has since become more synonymous with economic hardship and poverty. The struggles of this area have even made national headlines and counties like McDowell County, located at the southernmost tip of West Virginia, continue to rank among the poorest in the country.

For years Donna Campbell, the Association’s Accounts Receivable Manager, has traveled to cities within the Appalachian region and brought with her clothing, school supplies and basic living necessities. This year’s trip took her and her family to Welch, West Virginia–located in McDowell County. After a few months of collecting donations from DirectEmployers staff and compiling items on her own, Donna, her mother and her aunt drove the nearly seven-hour trek from Indianapolis to Welch, West Virginia and spent time at The Community Crossing–a local independent, nonprofit organization focused on helping residents of McDowell County through their challenges.

City of Welch, West ViriginaThe Community Crossing nonprofit has several programs geared at enriching the community with both education and assistance. Each of the items donated were given to the nonprofit and placed in a managed facility where the administrators work with the younger generation to educate and empower them to be successful in life and prepared for family, college and their careers. Through one program “Parents as Teachers,” The Community Crossing provides support and early childhood education to families located within McDowell County. This effort also has a subprogram that incentivizes participants by encouraging them to achieve life goals where they earn Baby Bucks that allows participants the ability to buy items for their children, such as diapers, clothing, toys and baby furniture.

While many of the staff donated items for Donna’s trip, we would like to thank Donna for giving us the opportunity to be involved in such a special journey. To learn more about The Community Crossing, or how you can get involved like Donna, visit: http://www.ccxwv.org. We can’t stress to you enough how much this organization impacts McDowell County and aids in maintaining their local ties to the community so they can best serve the residents.

Jaime Costilow is a Marketing Manager specializing in social media and communications for DirectEmployers Association.

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