The following article is from Vol. 14, No. 2 October 2016 of The Newsletter of The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at The University of Georgia. Click here to view full Newsletter.
SOLO SENIORS MEMBER CAROL A. WHITE
LEADS FLOOD RELIEF PROJECT FOR
WEBSTER SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA
Under the leadership of Carol A. White, members of the Solo Seniors SIG have
been sending supplies since 2012 to West Virginia’s impoverished Webster County,
specifically to the town of Webster Springs. The town is exactly 500 miles from
Athens, the last 40 miles a series of winding roads. There is only one high school
in the county—in Cowen, seventeen miles west of Webster Springs, on the other
side of a mountain range. Under normal conditions, some students ride for 90-110 minutes each morning and each evening, to and from school.
The story of how Carol became involved with Webster County goes back forty
years, when a missionary formed an alliance between a community group there
and the congregation of Saint James United Methodist Church in Athens.
church members, under the sponsorship of Circle 3 to which Carol’s mother
belonged, collected clothing, knit winter caps for the children, and gave money
to purchase gifts and toys for the families served by Christmas Store of Webster
After the death of her mother (former UGA Professor Ruth White Ormston)
in August 2005, Carol volunteered to drive the load to West Virginia.
years she expanded the program and now personally makes three trips annually
to Webster Springs.
She delivers school supplies and donated clothing in August,
toys and other children’s items for the Christmas Store in late November, and large
quantities of new books in early spring.
Her activities came to the attention of the
OLLI’s Solo Seniors in 2012, and that summer the SIG contributed bedding and
dorm essentials to Webster County high school seniors who had won scholarships
to college. In succeeding years they have helped Carol send books and clothing.
Last June Carol was in Statesboro, finishing a residential summer camp at Georgia
Southern, when sudden torrential storms dumped 8-10 inches of rain on the West
Virginia mountains in a 6-8 hour period.
Several hundred people in Webster County
were displaced by the flood waters, their homes washed away or structurally
unsafe for habitation.
By the end of July conditions were still dire. Local residents
were allowing displaced people to shower in their homes, and meals were still being served in the school cafeteria and at churches.
Many Webster County
residents had been without work/income for four weeks or laid off indefinitely
because their job sites were ruined in the flood.
In June after the flood, Carol’s inbox was at once full of email asking about the
impact on Webster County. Back in Athens, she immediately began action to help.
With donations from Solo Seniors, as well as the Quarterback Club and other
groups, she and Vic Armstrong organized donations and purchases. In August they
packed her Dodge Sprinter (the size of a FedEx truck) with tubs full of flood relief
supplies, and Carol delivered them to West Virginia. Her load included:
Carol writes, “I have no family.
My friends and a large number of businesses know
that I evolved into this role because the lives of hundreds of people in one county
in West Virginia continue to be impacted positively from our meager efforts.”
Her efforts sound far from meager—she has clearly made a great difference in
Webster Springs, both before the flood and after.
- A box of school supplies for each of the 12 classrooms in Webster Springs
- Boxes containing 600 new hardback books and 550 recent paperback
- Previously donated clothing sorted into rubber tubs
- Current donations of sheets, towels, and other linens
- Hygiene and storage items purchased with local donations
If you want to help with the Webster Springs mission
donations of lightly
used winter coats and jackets for children and adults are needed for the
load to be delivered in November. All items provided for Christmas Store are
brand new, but lightly used toys and children’s books are always welcome
to be distributed as families experience losses.
Contact Carol A. White at
to arrange a delivery, make a financial contribution, or
offer help with packing.