BIG STONE GAP, Va. - Coal is the livelihood for many families and communities in our region. Saturday people joined hands along US 23 to show their support for coal miners, their families, and the communities that rely on mines.
Cars speeding by, horns honking, and people holding signs all standing united for coal. Four-year-old Savanna Parsons was supporting her grandfather by holding a sign with a simple message, "Support coal, we're scared of the dark."
It was a grassroots effort along US 23 in coal country stretching through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. "We have to unite and keep our mines open," said event organizer Deborah Lawson.
Many people were praying for the survival of coal. "It puts a roof over our head, it's how we eat, that's our livelihood, my husband works in the mines," said Natashia Goins.
Organizers say there's the hope with so many people rallying for coal, their voices will be heard all the way in Washington. "That we will be heard by our politicians, that they will force the powers that be to keep the mines open," added Lawson.
Protecting jobs was at the forefront of this rally, even for those that recently lost their mining job, like Lynn Woodard. "You always have in the back of your mind there that little doubt today might be our last," he said.
A hope that stretches far beyond the mountains and the coal mines. "We've got to have coal moving to keep this country, especially these counties here going, if we don't everything is going to dry up," added Woodard.
News 5 learned organizers were raising money for Operation Coal Christmas, to help families affected by lay-offs and the idling of mine related jobs.