HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - What started as nothing more than a small collection of "likes" and "shares" on Facebook, is becoming a non-profit with a national foothold.
"Coal Miner's Movement 2016" held its first town hall meeting on Thursday, attracting more than 150 to Harrisburg's seldom used city hall auditorium.
The page grew in an excess of 11-thousand likes in the week after Heartland News first reported it.
Those in attendance heard from co-founder Bob Sandidge, and some local lawmakers.
At the door, there was a table where those interested could sign up for membership with the new non-profit.
Sandidge says the current focus is to raise awareness for a struggling coal industry, and gain tangible support for the cause.
"To take this to [Washington] D.C. and say you had 25-thousand likes on Facebook, you're gonna get laughed out of the city." Sandidge said. "But, to come with an actual group of members that belong to a non-profit… now you start raising eyebrows and turning heads."
"It's something that's gone viral that's gonna be a benefit." Said laid off Saline County miner Dennis Wolf as he stood next to his wife and children at the meeting. "and not just some stupid, ridiculous video… it's something gone viral that's gonna be beneficial."
Sandidge and his wife live in Harrisburg, and say they never expected to get much attention with the page after they were inspired by hundreds of layoffs in southern Illinois alone within the first months of 2016.
For a link to the Facebook page, click here.