School Janitor Makes a Difference With Unused Closet

Carolyn Collins opened her 'giving closet' 4 years ago
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
School Janitor Makes a Difference With Unused Closet
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Oppdowngalon)

For four years now, Georgia high school custodian Carolyn Collins has been quietly making sure the students at her school have what they need. It started when, as she was getting ready to take out the trash, two students knocked on the cafeteria door and asked to wait inside. They were homeless, living in their mother's car, and had been dropped off at Tucker High, about 25 miles outside Atlanta, hours early to get ready for the day in one of the school's bathrooms. Moved by their plight, Collins, 54, made sure they got some breakfast—and then came up with her plan, the Washington Post reports. She bought $200 worth of food, toiletries, socks, underwear, and school supplies and asked school administrators to give her space to set up a "giving closet." She was soon running it out of a 15-foot by 6-foot storage room, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Now, Collins still spends a few hundred dollars a month on items to stock the closet, but teachers, students, and community members also donate supplies, including clothes, shoes, book bags, and more. She also got thousands to spend on the students during a segment on Steve Harvey's show last month. Many students at the school live in poverty, and Collins estimates she's opened up the closet for about 150 students over the years, letting them take what they need. "If a student needs something and it’s not in the closet, Ms. Collins will go out of her way to get it or find somebody else who can," says the school principal; she's even been known to help with prom wear. Collins, whose son was killed during a robbery six years ago, says she wants to make sure no student feels the need to turn to crime. She hopes to someday open more giving closets. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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