SALYERSVILLE – An Indiana woman with local ties drove nearly seven hours to make a special donation to help some Magoffin County teens.
Diana McCoin, from North Judson, Indiana, started a couple months ago gathering up donations of new or gently used formal dresses, and drove the 50+ dresses, shoes and purses to Magoffin County, where she has never lived.
“My dad was born and raised from Tip Top and my mom was born and raised from Half Mountain, so this just feels like home to me,” McCoin said.
She said her dad, Mike Rowe, moved in 1951 with his family to Indiana shortly after his high school graduation, staying in the state for work, but always missing Magoffin. His dad, Henry Rowe, had ran the commissary and general store up Tip Top for years and pastored at Tip Top Church.
“I always asked him why did he raise his family in Indiana when we could have been around like-minded people here,” McCoin said. “He lived and worked in Indiana, but he hated it and he died hating it. We actually had a Tom Whitaker painting of Tip Top etched on the back of his tombstone and it’s really beautiful.”
Her mom, Shelby Jean Miller Reed, is 85 years old and living in Indiana, too, but has family in the Half Mountain area, still.
“It just feels like home to me,” McCoin said. “We have ministries at home that do this kind of stuff, and I help when I can, but my heart is kind of here so much, so I knew I wanted to do something to help people here.”
McCoin said she had gathered up dresses previously and donated them by mailing them to Magoffin County, but said the shipping costs totaled over $140.
“For that amount, we could have driven down there and stayed down there, and we knew we wanted to come in for Labor Day, so we just loaded up the van and came on,” McCoin laughed.
More than half of the dresses she dropped off on September 3 have never been worn, but she said she hopes the dresses can find a home here, helping girls get ready for prom or homecoming without the hefty price tag.
“Many of the dresses still had tags on them and I just couldn’t believe how much people were having to pay for these dresses, only for events to be canceled and the dresses never be worn,” McCoin told the Independent on Friday as she settled in at a nearby hotel after her drive.
While McCoin won’t be able to do much after the initial drop-off, she said she hopes some local seamstresses will be able to help with alterations and general steam cleaning to get the dresses dance ready.
When asked why she did it, she just laughed and said, “All I did was I got donations, and that was fun. It was fun seeing the dresses come in and talking to the people, then delivering them safely here. I think the Lord would like for me to do thinks like this, so it just feels like something He wants me to do.”
But why Magoffin County, instead of the countless high schools she inevitably passed along her drive from North Judson?
“My heart is here,” McCoin said. “My body lives up there, but my heart is here.”
While she was in, she told the Independent she was hoping to get to go to a small outdoor gathering at Tip Top with some of the other families with Tip Top roots. She said the annual reunion had been canceled, but some were still planning on meeting, noting that even if they have to mask up and practice social distancing, “It just feels good to get together, again.”