Skip to Content

Operation Appalachia accepting donations

Heather Tydings

This holiday season, HCC student Heather Tydings, of Hagerstown, has made it her mission to help those less fortunate, specifically residents living in McDowell County, W.Va.

Tydings, a business major at HCC, was inspired to start the “Operation Appalachia” project after speaking with her father-in-law and his pastor.

“My father-in-law’s church was looking for a special project for the holidays and he asked me to research organizations that donated food, clothing, and supplies to impoverished families living in the Appalachian region,” says Tydings. “After doing some research, I came upon ‘School of Life,’ a nonprofit dedicated to helping people, especially children, living in McDowell County.”

Founded by missionaries Jack and Brenda Fultz, School for Life, Inc., seeks to improve the lives of the needy through supply donations and education. The organization is located in Gary, W.Va., a remote part of southern West Virginia. According to the School for Life website, McDowell County has an extremely high poverty rate for both children and the community as a whole. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 41 percent of McDowell County residents are living below poverty level. Of the 41 percent, more than half that number pertains to children between the ages of five and 17.

“Once I learned about the conditions those people were living in, I knew I had to do something,” says Tydings. “The childhood poverty rate in this county is undeniably a heartbreaking statistic. These children are born into poverty and rarely have the opportunity to escape. School for Life is taking steps to help these children get educated and hopefully out of the community and into college, breaking the cycle they have been born into. These kids need a chance and any little bit we can do is helpful.”

To help McDowell County residents, Tydings decided to hold a supply drive from now through late December in order to collect clothing, blankets and linens, toiletries, children’s toys, and non-perishable food items.

“This is about one community pulling together to help another. This is something we need to do,” says Tydings.  “This is our opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life and to spread a little hope within a community that has lost hope. The people of this town need to feel that they are not alone. We, as a community, are more blessed than we realize and we need to share that gift with others.”

To get the community involved in her project, Tydings spent two weeks visiting area businesses to ask if they would be willing to serve as drop-off locations for the Operation Appalachia drive. Several businesses agreed. Donations will be accepted during normal business hours at the following locations:

  • Allstate at 12805 Oak Hill Avenue in Hagerstown (between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.)
  • C&O Tile at 10226 Governor’s Lane Boulevard in Williamsport
  • Clearvue Settlements at 431 Dual Highway in Hagerstown
  • Coldwell Banker at 1850 Dual Highway in Hagerstown
  • Cumberland Valley Decorating at 1303 Dual Highway in Hagerstown
  • Edible Arrangements at 222 East Oak Ridge Drive #1100 in Hagerstown
  • F&S Insurance Services at 310 South Jefferson Street in Frederick
  • H&S Automotive at 735 Potomac Avenue in Hagerstown
  • Hagerstown Community College at 11400 Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown; bins are located in the Learning Resource Center (LRC), the Student Center, and the Classroom Building
  • Hagerstown Magazine at 10 Public Square (4th Floor) in Hagerstown
  • Healed by Hand at 13303 Herman Myers Road in Hagerstown
  • My First Bank United at 1646 Wesel Boulevard in Hagerstown, 130 South Edgewood Drive in Hagerstown, and 209 Main Street in Myersville, Md.
  • Pottery by Me at 1201 East Dual Highway in Hagerstown
  • Reliable Craftsmanship on 101 West Irvin Avenue in Hagerstown
  • Rocky’s Pizza at 40 North Potomac Street in Hagerstown
  • Sentinel Capital Solutions at 38 South Potomac Street in Hagerstown
  • Skyline Food Source, which will collect donations when making deliveries to customers (
  • Smile Design Centre at 11151 Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown
  • Wright Gardner Insurance at 100 West Antietam Street in Hagerstown

In addition, donations will also be accepted at the following Columbia Bank locations:

  • 83 West Washington Street in Hagerstown
  • 830 West Franklin Street in Hagerstown
  • 900 South Potomac Street in Hagerstown
  • 1585 Dual Highway in Hagerstown
  • 1571 Wesel Boulevard in Hagerstown
  • 17803 Virginia Avenue in Hagerstown
  • 18201 Maugans Avenue in Hagerstown
  • 22413 Jefferson Boulevard in Smithsburg
  • 207 North Main Street in Boonsboro

Donations will be accepted now through Dec. 24. Once collected, items will be delivered to School of Life for distribution to McDowell County residents.

Acceptable donations include:

Non-perishable food items

  • Hearty soups and stews
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned meats: ham, chicken, meat spreads
  • Canned fish: tuna, salmon, sardines, other fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Rice and beans
  • Puddings and custards
  • Canned fruits: peaches, pears, pineapples, applesauce, fruit cocktail
  • Canned juices: apple, cranberry, tomato and vegetable
  • Canned vegetables: green beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Hot and cold breakfast cereals including oatmeal and cream of wheat
  • Pastas and canned sauces

Toiletries and household items

  • Toilet paper and tissues
  • Towels
  • Soap: bar and liquid
  • Linens: blankets


  • All ages, any kind (both children and adult)
  • Children’s shoes: (both boys and girls); slightly used is okay

Toys/stuffed animals
Toys that do not require batteries

  • Board games
  • Learning games
  • Puzzles (all ages)
  • Dolls/action figures
  • Crayons, coloring books
  • Books
  • Musical instruments
  • Learning type items: flash cards, ABC cards, mathematical cards,

For more information about this project or to request a pick-up, call 301-473-3928.