Lend-A-Hand continues mission

For more than 20 years, groups of students and alumni from Weirton Madonna High School have gathered at the end of the school year and dedicated themselves to helping others.

This week, the most recent group of volunteers for Lend-A-Hand for Appalachia returned to Weirton after spending several days in Mullens, W.Va., working on home improvement projects for those who might otherwise not be able to afford them.

Lend-A-Hand began in the mid-1990s, when five Weirton Madonna alumni chaperoned a group of high school seniors to southern West Virginia to help build a house for a man who had been living in a tool shed. Each summer, the efforts grew, with more students joining the trek and more projects being taken on.

Officially incorporating in 2001, the effort transformed from a summer project to a full outreach program.

This year, six individuals — four students and two chaperones — undertook a series of projects for one Mullens resident, replacing his roof and installing several doors in his home.

The program is financed entirely through donations, with support received from local residents, churches and businesses who provide funding, supplies, tools, food and other necessities.

According to many of the participants over the years, taking part in Lend-A-Hand has been a transformative experience as they are exposed to the lifestyles of others living only a few hours’ drive away from the Ohio Valley. They see the difference that can be made by a small group of people working together, and they see the appreciation of those they are helping.

Throughout its history, Lend-A-Hand for Appalachia has benefited an unknown number of West Virginians, and we’re sure those efforts will continue for years to come.

We thank all of those who have participated and contributed to this amazing program over the years, and hope it serves as an inspiration to others.