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School club has it covered
Student coat drive nets 300 garments for those in need
C.W. Davis Middle School eighth-graders from left, Haley Hickman, 13, Janessa King, 15, Kennedy Inman, 13, Mayra Leyva, 13, and Angel Morales, 13, organize boxes of winter coats and sweaters Dec. 13 during a Partnerships for Success Club meeting. The club has collected more than 300 coats and sweaters for teenagers involved in foster care in Hall County. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Students at C.W. Davis Middle School had an ambitious goal to collect 100 coats in only ten days for area foster children.

By day four, the eighth-graders had met their goal and by their final day, the amount had tripled to 317.

"It was pretty shocking to reach that goal so quickly," Davis Middle School special education teacher Lia Grissom said.

The drive lasted from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 and was overseen by students from the Partnerships for Success Club, a student-run club for young people with disabilities and without. The club is grant-funded through the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

"All of the leadership positions are co- positions, meaning a person with a disability and one who does not (have a disability) work as a team together," Fay Inman, a program administrator with the Georgia Council said.

Over the 10-day period, the students collected the jackets in the morning and washed and sorted them by size to be ready for pick up. They also collected hoodies and sweatshirts to give the foster children additional winter weather clothing options.

"Their goal was not to just give a kid a coat. One thing they heard from (Foster Parent Support Group of Hall County) is that when a child goes into foster care, all they have is the clothes on their back 90 percent of the time," Inman said.

To build support for their cause, the children created fliers and gave updates on their progress during the school's morning announcements.

They also reached out to local businesses, asking them to help add to the collection.

Inman's daughter, Kennedy Inman, a student at Davis and a leader of the club, came up with the idea for the drive and pitched it to the principal. Inman said it was heartwarming to see the level of giving this season.

"In this economy when people can sell coats on Ebay, they actually donated. And it was high quality. There were probably 25 coats that were leather and suède," Inman said. "Even in this economy, people are still worried about other people."

Eighth-grader Caitlyn Gulisano, a student of Grissom's, said gathering coats for other teenagers made her feel "happy."

Grissom expects the drive will be an annual event.

A representative from the Foster Parent Support Group of Hall County picked the up the winter coats Dec. 13 during a Partnerships for Success Club Meeting. "By the end of the week, they will already be in the hands of people who need them," Inman said last week.