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Letter to the Editor: Loss of coals jobs not just an adult worry

Loss of jobs due to the attack on coal job not just an adult worry.

Kids need support too…

As jobs “go away” and parents struggle to make ends meet we sometimes forget about the affect it has on those who have no control of any of the madness.

Marshall County just lost three students. All three from a family who moved from the lower part of West Virginia when the father’s coal mine job was lost to what we call the “War on Coal.” The family came to our county when dad was hired at one of local high-performing mines. The hope that they would be able to remain in our community was shared by the whole family.

The last two years, the three children — one a teenager and the other two in grade school — became part of our neighborhood. They, like all the kids in the neighborhood spent hours playing ball, riding bikes, going from yard to yard just being kids. The oldest joined the school sports teams and was quite good. The three children, along with their parents, had found a home, a school, a neighborhood and friends that every family seeks in life.

The last two years have brought struggles for everyone in the neighborhood since many of our neighbors work in the mines. The dad of this family was laid off for a while but was lucky to get back to work. It was summer.

The youngest, a sweet 8-year-old told me, as we swam in my backyard pool, that she would not be able to get new clothes for school because they did not have the money for them. She told the story with innocence. As others where using state clothing vouchers, this family did not qualify.

Her Dad did get called back to work; however, just recently was laid off again, this time most likely for good.

On a Saturday afternoon, all the kids had gathered at my house. My grandsons and the neighborhood kids are frequent drop-in visitors, which is a great perk to living next door. I had just come back from a trip and brought all my grandsons new coats for next year. I, too, as the wife of a miner and former Ormet employee, have learned to bargain shop. As the boys tried on the new coats I asked the little girl if she needed a new coat. She then began to tell me how fast she was growing, that she liked girlie things and really liked Justice for Girls brand. She went on to tell me that she had found a shirt at the Goodwill from Justice and loved it. Having noted that they could not afford to buy that brand, she went on to tell me how much she liked getting new things. After all. she is pretty little girl who likes pretty things.

It was what she said next the tore at my heart. With her small voice and slight speech impediment here is what she said:

“I don’t know why anyone would have ever voted for Obama. My daddy has been out of work and we were hoping to save enough money to buy a house someday. We like it here. He is working at Lowes for just $12 an hour and that is not enough for my mommy and daddy to buy a house. That is why we shop at Goodwill and will have to move.”

“We are going to have to move again. We really don’t know yet where but we are going to have to go south. My daddy is going to look for another job. I worry about my mom, she is my best friend.”

As the boys modeled their new coats it broke my heart that she and her brothers would be leaving us. They had become part of the “neighborhood gang” that hung out, swam and played ball in my yard. But what hit me the hardest was that his little girl shared the pain of her dad losing his job, her mom worrying where they would live and how they would someday buy a home. She was carrying this worry with her every day and every night.

They visited for a while ate chips and dip, some soda then as they always do, packed up and moved on to play at one of the other kids homes.

I could not get out of my mind what the little girl had told me about being worried about her mom, having to move before her birthday and that she really liked “girlie” clothes. She told me that her birthday was the end of March and they most likely would be gone by then.

This is not fair for a young child to carry this worry. As for the dad. He’s a hard-working man, and I am sure carries his pain inside. But as a young child it has to hurt to be uprooted again and go without things that little girls like. I had to do something.

My daughter’ss best friend used to be a buyer for “Justice for Girls” so I called her. I thought just maybe that I could purchase some of the samples what she may have had. Sadly I learned that she no longer worked for them.

Sharing the story with my daughter, who has a soft heart, went online and found a box of Justice Girl’s clothes in the size we needed. She called me and asked if I wanted to bid on them. Yes! I told her to bid whatever she needed to, to get them….

There were 36 pieces of Justice Items and my daughter had her friend check it out to see if they were worth bidding on. She gave thumbs up and we bid.

We won! For $71, I was able to get a box of clothes for this sweet child. They were gently used but when then arrived found to be in very good condition. I was so excited to be able to help this child feel good about herself as many of her friend’s sported clothes she wished she had.

Knowing her birthday was soon I bought a huge teddy bear and card to give her when I would present to her the clothes.

I came home from a weekend at my daughter’s and was going to invite her up. However, I learned that they the family had to move a month sooner than expected. They were not able to pay the rent for the month of March. She was gone. Packed up and on the road with her family to find work and a new home.

They left many of their belongings at the house, and I hope they will be coming back to get them so she can have these items I know she will love.

In all this mess and controversy over coal, job loss and the politics is little 8-year-old child who carries daily to school and to bed at night the worry that her family will never have a home. She carries the worry that her Mom is sad and they her Dad had to work for low wages just to get by.

Has anyone asked the children how they are making it through all the mess that has been caused by adults?

As these kids go to school, play with their friends and they lay down their heads at night the adult worries go with them. If a child is struggling in school, having behavioral problems or withdrawn, the root cause may be that the world has passed adult problems on to these kids: How to survive.

Kids are smart. Never under estimate what have they understood.

Lori Kestner

Marshall County


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