I was working on a special piece for this week’s ‘Good People’ feature, but as often happens, I find that it requires more digging and research than I have time for right at this moment, so I will have that one next week. But for today … you are going to fall in love with this woman! She will restore your faith in human nature! Please allow me to introduce …Carolyn Collins, a high school custodian in Tucker, Georgia. About four years ago, Carolyn was working the early shift, it was still dark out, and she was getting ready to take out the trash when there came a knock on the cafeteria door. Two students — a boy and a girl — looked at her nervously. “Can we please come in?” asked the boy, even though school didn’t start for two more hours. “Me and my sister are getting tired of waiting outside.”
Talking to the two, Carolyn learned that they were homeless, living in a car with their mother, and hadn’t had much to eat for several days. She fixed them something to eat and sat chatting with them for a few minutes. It was from them that she learned there were actually several homeless kids in the school, some living in cars, some in homeless shelters, some even living on the streets. Carolyn’s heart was touched, and she knew she had to find a way to help.After work that evening, Carolyn stopped at several dollar stores on her way home, purchasing $200 worth of snacks, toiletries, socks, underwear, notebooks, and pencils. The next morning, she dropped into Principal Eric Parker’s office to let him know what she was doing and to ask if she could make use of a small, mostly-unused storage closet near the cafeteria. And with that began the Giving Closet.
Many of the students at Tucker High School live in poverty, and according to Principal Parker, at any given time there are typically 10-15 students who are homeless. Carolyn started out with just a few items, but as she realized how great the needs of the students were, she expanded and now has clothing, belts, shoes, gloves, hairbrushes … you name it, she’s got it, and if she doesn’t have it, she’ll get it. She spends a few hundred dollars of her own hard-earned money each month keeping the closet stocked. These days, teachers, other students, and members of the community also bring items to help keep the closet stocked.
Carolyn’s son was murdered during the Thanksgiving weekend six years ago in a home invasion. She hopes that what she is doing will help keep the young men and women of Tucker High off the streets and prevent what happened to her own son from happening to these young people.
Earlier this year, her efforts came to the attention of television host Steve Harvey after Atlanta-based TV station 11Alive shared Carolyn’s story in December of 2017. Grab your box of tissues and take peek …
“I never anticipated it would get this big, lots of good people want to help. Not every kid who comes to the closet is homeless — some come from single homes and don’t have dads in their lives. It’s hard not to have a dad at home, especially when you’re a young boy. I just hug them and love them and let them know that I’m here for them.”
One of the young men she helped who has since graduated and is now a sophomore at Savannah State University, says of Carolyn …
“I love her with all my heart, she was my angel. Ms. Collins took me aside a couple of times and made sure that I was doing okay and asked me what I needed. And I basically told her, ‘everything.’ I didn’t have clothes or good shoes or food, or even a toothbrush. She gave me all of that and more.”
I so admire Ms. Carolyn Collins … she is what we should all aspire to be, don’t you think?