What kind of kids can lift half a ton of coal? Kids like Sam and Chris Atchison and Riley and Braden Amos.
These four boys gathered more than 1,000 pounds of coal during the last two months to fulfill a generous challenge by Al Harper of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
It all started on a warm, summer afternoon of playing in the Animas River and gathering chunks of coal that had rolled downhill off the railroad tracks. As the four friends looked upon their stash of coal, Riley pondered, Do you think we could sell this coal back to the railroad?
It was unanimously considered a wonderful idea, and the boys proposed it in a letter to Harper.
Much to their surprise, he agreed not only to pay them for the coal (up to a half ton) but also match the boys payment with an equal donation split between their two favorite nonprofit organizations, the Stillwater Foundation and the Liberty School.
With a promise to always stay near a parent and to gather coal only during the train schedules safe times, the kids went to work.
After two months of collecting coal, the kids dropped off their half ton at the railroad Friday. They received checks for their efforts, as well as the matching funds for the Stillwater Foundation and the Liberty School.