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Third-grader organizes clothing drive for homeless shelter

Newton County resident Sarah Michelle Cole poses with some of the 34 bags and several boxes full of clothes and shoes she helped collect for donation to the Garden of Gesthemane Homeless Shelter in Covington.

Newton County resident Sarah Michelle Cole poses with some of the 34 bags and several boxes full of clothes and shoes she helped collect for donation to the Garden of Gesthemane Homeless Shelter in Covington.

COVINGTON -- When Sarah Michelle Cole saw a commercial urging kids to give back to their communities, she asked her mom if she could place a bin at the end of their driveway for people to donate clothes.

Her mother told her that wouldn't be a good idea, but 8-year-old Sarah didn't give in.

"She was just insistent," said Sarah's mother, Michelle Cole.

Sarah convinced her dad, Brandon Cole, to collect items from his co-workers at Specialty Mechanical Services. She also solicited donations from her aunt.

Three weeks later, a few days before Christmas, the Coles' garage contained 34 garbage bags of clothes, and several boxes of shoes.

Sara and her family took the items to the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter in Covington where staff happily accepted the donations.

"I have a house. I have shelter. I have a mom and dad to take care of me and love me but some of those people do not. I just wanted to give them a little extra," said Sarah, a third-grader at the Newton County Theme School at Fiquett.

Donations ranged from blue jeans to dress clothes and included sizes from toddler to adult.

"It didn't just look like leftovers," said Michelle Cole. "People who need to go looking for a job, they have something decent to put on."

Cole said she's been taking Sarah, along with her 13-year-old brother Cameron, to the homeless shelter for several years. On their own and through their church, Covington First United Methodist Church, the family donates food, towels and other items to the shelter.

Cameron also collected clothes for the shelter as his community service project at Cousins Middle School.

"Even though they have so much stuff of their own, I try to make them understand that many folks are less fortunate and we need to do what we can," said Cole.

A teacher for 17 years who currently works at Flint Hill Elementary School in Newton County, Cole said her daughter's motivation and determination pleased her. She said it wouldn't surprise her if Sarah became a missionary.

"She's a giver and always worried about other folks," said Cole.