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Benedictine Sisters making a difference in Appalachia

Courtesy photo/Benedictine Sisters of Virginia - Sister Henry Marie Zimmermann and Phillipe Desamours, an 8th Grade Student at Linton Hall School load donations for Appalachia.
The Appalachian mission started out as a small labor of love by two of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Sister Andrea Verchuck and Sister Celine Hendley about 30 years ago.
A Sister studying at VCU and living at Saint Gertrude’s Convent spoke of the poverty in Marion, VA and how infants didn’t even have adequate clothing in which to leave the hospital.
Upon hearing this, Sisters Verchuck and Hendley spent that summer sewing clothing for toddlers and collecting monetary donations to purchase infant clothing.
That year Linton Hall School, the Benedictine Sisters preschool through 8th grade, donated warm socks and winter coats.
Sisters Verchuck and Hendley packed up the monastery station wagon and drove to Marion, VA and this started the Benedictine Sisters’ Appalachian mission with the Servite missionaries.
Since that first trip to Marion the Appalachian mission has grown.
The Sisters now fill a truck each year and send it off to Baxter, Kentucky.
In Baxter that truck is met by a very generous woman, Francine Rowe.
Rowe and her family distribute the collected clothing, household items, new socks, hats, gloves, tooth brushes and undergarments to the people of Appalachia.
This year the mission took a slightly different turn.
After the Linton Hall School Student Council Association helped load the truck, Sister Henry Marie Zimmermann and Sister Veronica Joyner drove the truck themselves to Baxter, Kentucky.
For the first time after many phone calls, emails and letters, Sister Zimmermann will meet Rowe in person.
“I am very excited about this trip and it will be wonderful to finally meet Francine in person” says Sister Zimmermann.
The Benedictine Sisters take donations for their Appalachian Mission throughout the year.
The Sisters are located at 9535 Linton Hall Road in Bristow.
For more information about the Benedictine Sisters and their ministries, visit www.osbva.org or contact Maureen O’Donnell, Development Coordinator at 703-361-0106.
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