12/25/11 Burlington teen organizes coat and food giveaway

Southern Alamance high school student Nathan Josey hands out bags of food during the coat and food giveaway Saturday at the Piedmont Rescue Mission on North Mebane Street in Burlington.

Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News

Southern Alamance high school student Nathan Josey hands out bags of food during the coat and food giveaway Saturday at the Piedmont Rescue Mission on North Mebane Street in Burlington.

Burlington teen organizes coat and food giveaway
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 12/25/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 The line was long, much like the one at the mall when children are waiting to see Santa.

 And, in fact, Nathan Josey was wearing a Santa hat while waiting to give out coats and food at Piedmont Rescue Mission on Christmas Eve.

 Josey, a junior at Southern Alamance High School, collected coats for children and adults, along with canned food, for a project required before he graduates.

 “I could write a paper or I could do a service project,” he said. “I don’t like writing papers.”

 In contrast, Josey said, “I’ve always liked helping people. I hope a warm coat and a little bit of food will make their day.”

 The end result was a Saturday morning giveaway at the rescue mission on North Mebane Street in Burlington. Through a collection drive in the Eli Whitney community center and other efforts, Josey had more than 300 coats. The mission supplemented canned food he collected with bread and frozen chicken. And there were toys for the children.

 Josey’s mother, Robin, works at the Kernodle Clinic in Elon. She said people there and at Alamance Skin Center pitched in on the project.

 Tony Honeycutt, the mission’s director, and others who work or volunteer there were almost beaming at having an opportunity to do something extra for folks the day before Christmas.

 The mission does a community meal each Thanksgiving and Christmas, Honeycutt said, but “this is our first coat giveaway.” The mission knew how to get the word out to people in need, he said, and Josey exceeded expectations in the number of coats collected. At one point, Josey thought getting 100 coats would be reasonable goal.

 “It’s amazing the response he was able to get,” Honeycutt said. The mission may try to do another coat giveaway next year.

 Josey and people at the mission did their best to make the men, women and children who came for coats and food feel like guests.

 It worked, said Danett Hartzog, who has four children of her own and is caring for a nephew.

 “We picked up two coats and a bag of groceries and a bag of chicken,” she said, as one of her sons, 8-year-old Andrew, helped carry bags to the car. “Everybody was friendly, and they were serving hot cocoa and coffee.”