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Walmart donates over $30K to thank laid-off miners

Walmart was able to lend a helping hand at the Harlan Center on Wednesday morning by providing 300 local miners and their families with gift cards and clothing. The donation totaled $30,000, with an additional donation of $5,000 to the Harlan County Community Action Agency.

Walmart’s donation helped give back to miners impacted by recent layoffs, many of which have either found other work or sought out higher education, as a result of the Blackjewel bankruptcy in southeastern Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, unemployment in Harlan County rose from less than nine percent in June to 13 percent in August, which is the highest rate in the state.

Harlan Walmart Manager Paul Meister said the effort came as an attempt to support unemployed coal miners in Harlan County.

“There’s been hundreds of coal miners laid off and my regional manager, Tina Rodriguez, has put this together and asked us to do this,” Meister said. “We have around 300 $50 gift cards and 300 sets of work clothes we’re giving to miners just to help them through these tough times.”

Meister added countless employees in his store are related to miners, and it takes a community to support each other during hard times.

“I appreciate them being here and what they do. So many times we go home and flip on a light, turn on the TV. We have no thought where that electricity is generated and what makes electricity. It’s a very under-appreciated thing.”

Meister said he appreciates everyone who’s been in the support of the miners and those who helped during the event, including Harlan CAA, Leslie Bledsoe and With Love from Harlan and Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley.

“I appreciate the Walmart store managers of eastern Kentucky, who are here working this event,” Meister said. “They’ve gave their time and their stores have given money for this event. Eastern Kentucky people really take care of each other. They step up when someone’s in need. I’m proud to be living in a town like Harlan, Kentucky.”

Walmart management said they are committed to giving back in every community they serve, contributing more than $24.5 million in cash and in-kind donations to Kentucky non-profits in FY19.