Tragedy Inside a Mountain
At 3pm, on the afternoon of April 5, an explosion, one and a half miles inside a mountain, rocked the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. Soon after the event, we knew that 25 men had died; at the end of the week, the hope that four miners might have survived was lost. A total of 29 men lost their lives and two were injured.
In response to the tragedy, the West Virginia Council of Churches established a fund to receive gifts in support of the families of the miners who died or were injured. The Council requested that the Foundation provide administrative support to the Fund, and we were honored to do so.
People found creative ways to give. Gifts were given by children through fund raising events at their schools. Individuals held signs along the road with collection buckets. Companies challenged their employees to give and matched employee gifts with a company donation. Personal checks ranging from $3.00 to $30,000 were received from across the country. Country singing star Alan Jackson donated $150,000 from his performance in Charleston. A grant total of over $990,000 was received.
On the six month anniversary of the tragedy, upon the direction of the West Virginia Council of Churches, 31 distribution checks were written to the miners’ families. For our part, we saw providing the administrative services as a way we could be involved in the support of the families affected by the disaster.