Nativity, Crafton, recently completed a school supply and backpack drive for the benefit of underprivileged children in McDowell County, WV. This mountainous area of southeastern West Virginia is one of the poorest and most underserved areas of the country, but has benefited greatly from the work of the Highland Educational Project, an outreach of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia and Episcopal Appalachian Ministries. Teens from Nativity partnered with the Youth Ministry Program at St. Paul’s, Mount Lebanon, for a mission trip this past June.

“When we got back to Pittsburgh, the kids asked me if we could find a way to continue our relationship with McDowell County, providing love and support throughout the year,” said the Rev. Shawn Malarkey, Rector of Nativity.

With a modest initial goal of 25 filled backpacks, the project exceeded expectations, with nearly 80 backpacks and multiple boxes of additional school supplies making the trip to West Virginia for the first day of school on August 18. “I was happy to report to the parish that my car wasn’t big enough to carry the backpacks, and I had to borrow a van,” said Malarkey.

 Lori Osborne, Director of the Highland Educational Project was grateful for the delivery, and for the continued outreach ministry of the parishes of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. “If it weren’t for you all, we wouldn’t have been able to provide for these kids.”