Coal miners rally to save Christmas for families of laid-off workers

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A group of Alabama coal miners are creating a toy drive in order to “save Christmas” for the families of recently laid-off workers as economic changes come ahead of the holiday season.

One group called “Adopt a Steel Worker/Coal Miner’s Family” is lining up support in order to make sure no local families take a hit from federal energy rules or receives a “lump of coal” for the holidays.

“Seeing as Christmas is right around the corner, my hope is that we can come together as a community and help those affected to not feel the strain quite so much this holiday season,” reads the group’s Facebook page description.

“Whether it’s donating gifts for children, money for the families, or some other type of help, I believe it can be a blessing to these families. If anyone has any ideas, please shoot me a message,” the group says.

Stephanie Tingle, the Brookwood wife of a coal miner affected by recent layoffs by Walter Energy, is also helping via a “GoFundMe” campaign for other families in a similar position.

On her campaign page, she described a meeting between workers and management before the firings that set her campaign in motion.

“We went to a company and union meeting and as I watched the men in the latest layoff, which amounted to 266 workers, I began to cry as I watched these men clean their lockers with a look of defeat on their faces. During the meeting the [union]field Rep mentioned finding ways to aid the families of these laid off workers during Christmas,” Tingle wrote.

“When I first learned of my husband being laid off all I could think of was my house, my car, my current lifestyle and how all that would change. That meeting changed my perspective. These children of these workers may not have a Christmas,” she wrote. “My husband and I don’t have any children but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about them especially during the holiday season.

“A few guys offered to help sponsor a child and I wanted to grow that idea as best as possible. I want to give back because as wonderful as Christmas was for me personally growing up, I would never want to see a child suffer through the holidays.”

You can donate to Stephanie’s crowd-funding page here. She says the goal of the group is to maximize the good that donations can do by pooling resources.

“Every single penny is strictly for Christmas for the children of these men who unfortunately were laid off during the holiday season. I plan to purchase as many toys and/or bikes as I can make stretch with any money I can raise to help these men, women and their children,” wrote Tingle.

Below, you can also see the details of a local upcoming toy drive in Brookwood Park, outside of Birmingham, where the Tingles’ efforts began.

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