When Carolyn Collins found out that some of the students at her school were going hungry, she didn’t just sit on the information. In fact, the heartbreaking situation actually spurred her on to make a real difference to deprived teens. And it’s all down to Collins’ very special closet…
Collins herself, meanwhile, is a custodian at Tucker High School in Georgia. And day to day, she’s normally found making sure that her place of work is clean and tidy, despite any mess its students may make. Since starting in her role at the school, though, the janitor has voluntarily taken on another rather different responsibility.
And Collins chose to act after a heartrending encounter she had back in 2014. Then, she was working an early shift when she was told to look after some students. Collins learnt, however, that two of the kids hadn’t eaten properly before they had arrived at school, nor did they have permanent accommodation.
Sadly, though, this state of affairs isn’t all that unusual in Georgia. Indeed, a 2017 report from the state’s Department of Community Affairs reveals that a hefty 23 percent of homeless people there are below the age of 18. A further 8 percent, meanwhile, are young adults, aged from 18 to 24.
Collins decided to do her bit to help alleviate the problem, however. And to this end, she decided to set up a “care closet” in the school, acting as a place for disadvantaged kids to go whenever they needed free supplies.
And in December 2017 a reporter from Atlanta-based NBC affiliate 11Alive headed to Tucker High School in order to tell Collins’ story. The station’s footage shows the janitor heading to the corner of the cafeteria and opening the door to a small space, crammed with shelves, boxes and crates that are in turn filled by various goods and essentials.
Inside the closet, in fact, there are clothes, toiletries, school materials and food. It’s a treasure trove of items that should – thanks to Collins’ kindness – help ensure that any Tucker High students in need are ably looked after.
However, Collins also assumes that there are other underprivileged children in the halls who don’t frequent the closet. “There’s probably more of them, but a lot of kids don’t say anything,” she pointed out. “I tell the teachers a lot, ‘If you see a child with their head down, the same clothes on day after day, let me know.’”
“These are our babies,” Collins added to the station, referring to the students in need. She continued, “They just want to learn. I just want to take care of them. Some of them [are] sleeping in cars, some in hotels.”
As it happens, though, Collins’ scheme has already made a difference to the lives of several young people: the janitor guesses as many as 30 annually. And to keep the closet stocked up, the Tucker High employee even goes so far as to dip into her bank balance; donations are welcome, however.
Furthermore, Collins told 11Alive that she hopes that the care she provides will keep students from heading down the wrong path. “I’m just trying to stop our young boys from stealing and killing. I’m trying to give ’em all they need in this closet,” she added.
And, indeed, there’s another painful incident in Collins’ past that has spurred her project on. As is revealed in the 11Alive report, the custodian’s life has been touched by loss: her son was tragically killed while a home invasion was in progress. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that she wants to help disaffected young men do better for themselves.
In addition, Collins’ selflessness has not gone unrewarded. In particular, in December 2017 entrepreneur and author La Detra White chose to assist the woman who had given so much to Tucker High students over the years. And to that end, White had a little Christmas surprise of her own for the janitor.
Heartwarmingly, White chose to not only hand over items intended for Collins’ closet, but also presents for the janitor herself. All told, in fact, Collins was given goods and cash to the value of over $1,300. What’s more, the moment in which Collins was told of the generous donation was caught on camera.
And in footage of the event, White tells Collins, “A lot of people got together and wanted to give a gift to say ‘merry Christmas’ to you because we love what you did.” The school custodian is then seen beaming, and she goes on to embrace White for her kind words.
The original 11Alive report about Collins, meanwhile, has since proved to be a popular one on the station’s website. And a video of the janitor’s story has also found its way onto Facebook, where it has racked up an incredible 1.6 million views after it was posted to 11Alive’s page.
Furthermore – and perhaps unsurprisingly – Collins has been inundated with praise from those who have watched the Facebook clip. One commenter wrote, for example, “This lady is not a janitor – she’s an angel pretending to be a janitor. You can look at her and tell she has a beautiful soul.”
Another added, “You are a beautiful person. A little love goes a long way. Thank you for caring.” However, one Facebook user thought that Collins could even benefit from a change of position, writing, “I think you should have a different role, because they need more admin staff to be compassionate and caring.” They added, “You can do even more.”
But whether Collins remains a janitor or not, one thing’s for sure: she has a big heart. She’s seemingly committed to her role as custodian of the care closet, too. “I’m doing something for the kids every day,” she explained to 11Alive. “Every day. It’s part of my job.”
And through her generous scheme, Collins has likely given a little bit of cheer to dozens of young people who really needed the boost. Here’s hoping, then, that others choose to follow her example in the future.