Giving the gift of warmth

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

A few weeks ago, on a cold wintry morning in early December, a Yazoo City resident noticed something odd about a child she saw walking into a local elementary school - the child was not wearing a coat. A few days later she noticed the same thing with a middle school boy on his way to school - he wasn't wearing a coat either.

These observations led Erica Green to do something out of her comfort zone.  Reaching out first on social media to gather support, Green began to take steps toward blessing local school children with brand new coats for the winter.

"I knew that I was going to do something about this," she said. "I posted a status on Facebook, and I had some classmates who participated, and some friends who also donated to help out."

Green also reached out to local churches and organizations, such as Community Economic Development Strategies (C.E.D.S.) and New King Solomon M.B. Church who added their support to her mission.  As a parent with a child and niece attending these schools, the project touched a special place in her heart.

"When it came back that I was approved to get the extra money I needed to buy the coats, I cried because I was so happy," Green said. "I had no idea that it would bring me so much joy to be able to give back like this much, especially to children."

Green's next step was to identify the total amount of children at the Yazoo City Municipal School District who were most in need of a winter coat.  As a Class of 2004 graduate of Yazoo City High School, she started by contacting school administrators, who led her to Mrs. Bettye Fox, the Parent Liaison at Woolfolk Middle School.

"She called me and I told her I appreciated her reaching out to us because we did have students that were coming to school with no coats on," Fox said.

Mrs. Fox then reached out to school administrators, liaisons, and teachers asking for a list to be compiled in secret of the students who were most in need.

By the end of the search, the contained 40 students who were in need of a good winter coat, and Green quickly made the purchase.

On December 20, Green arrived at Woolfolk Middle School with several coats which would be distributed one at a time to each child on the list.  As an added bonus, Green was also able to tie in a pair of winter gloves with each coat, so that students would have one more article of warm clothing each before the holiday break.

Yolanda Strong, the Assistant Principal for Woolfolk Middle School, remarked on what a blessing the donation was to the students.

"It is wonderful to have our community as advocates behind the students who are helping to meet those needs that our students have," she said. "We are just overjoyed to have them coming together to be a blessing to the children at our schools."

Green said that she hopes others will join in the effort to meet the needs of people in the community.

"Stop thinking about doing it and just make a move," she said. "When you do something and other people see you doing it, it motivates them to do it too. If we all came together as a unit, it could be monumental what we could do."