The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 23, 2012

Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary plans for festival

Guest column

For The Register-Herald


The Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary will participate in the Oct. 5-7 Rocket Boys Festival at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the author of “October Sky”/“Rocket Boys,” Homer Hickam. He and the other Rocket Boys all spent their childhood in Coalwood, McDowell County. As an adult, Homer’s career with NASA was nationally known.

The highlight of the festival will be the appearance of the Rocket Boys; four of the five have confirmed they will attend.

We will be partnering with festival director Scott Hill, along with other supporters, to stage the festival in Beckley. In the past, the festival was held in Coalwood, but it seems quite appropriate to move it to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine because the Rocket Boys grew up in a coal camp with parents employed as coal miners.

People attending the festival can tour the coal mine.

Beckley residents and businesses were invited to adopt a fire hydrant. In exchange for each donation to the United Way they were given a hydrant to paint with a theme of their choice.

The Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary have completed three with the locations being at the corner of South Kanawha and Church streets, North Kanawha Street and Hume Court and South Kanawha Street. The themes are, of course, coal mining.

Come and meet the Rocket Boys and enjoy the live entertainment. Our booth with giveaways will be on the festival grounds.

Other festival activities include rocket launches, West Virginia championship of paper airplane flights, 20 West Virginia authors, coal mine and coal camp tours, Youth Museum and Star tours at the planetarium, fire hydrant painting contest, educational displays, essay contest, food and craft vendors.

Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary “Giving Hearts”

The holiday season will soon be upon us. The economic downturn has affected our state, and the number of families in need is staggering.

The Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary has started its fifth annual Giving Hearts fund drive for West Virginians and deployed military families who are in need. Donations can be made county-specific at your request.

Below is a brief outline of the project.

Deployed West Virginia troops families’ names have been provided to the FOCLA.

The families will be taken care of by us. The sizes for all clothing, as well as children’s wish lists for toys, will be provided. Names of families in need from area churches and schools will also be provided.

Each family will be provided traditional holiday turkey dinner, complete outfits for each family member and toys for each child in the family.

Gifts will be prepared by the FOCLA and will be picked up Dec. 8 at our Mabscott office. We welcome any sponsor who wishes to participate, and encourage them to attend.

The Ladies Auxiliary believes Giving Hearts is a wonderful opportunity to help our community. Along with your sponsorship of a family or a donation we will be able to provide these families with a very merry Christmas.


FOCLA’s mission is to enhance public support of and understanding about the West Virginia coal industry. Our goal is to increase public awareness about the realities of the coal industry and its economic and social impact on our state.

If you would like to join the Friends of Coal Ladies Auxiliary, visit our website at or call 304-255-1457 ext. 20, or come to our general meeting, held the last Thursday of each month at 6:15 p.m. at 144 Whitestick St., Mabscott.

Membership is free.

FOCLA is the official distributor of Friends of Coal merchandise. Shop our online store at Our merchandise includes golf shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, fleece jackets and gun cases. Special orders are also available.