The bitterly cold winter may have been a bit easier on many folks - due to part to the efforts of a local teen.
South Laurel High School student, Keaton Brown, saw a need in her community and took action to help others by continuing the "Coat of Many Colors" project begun two years ago by one of her classmates.
Launched by Hannah Amburgey, this collection effort reaps in coats, hats, scarves and gloves that are donated to the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) located in Mt. Vernon. Collected items are then taken to various distribution sites in the region and dispersed to organizations and individuals.
Amburgey began the coat drive while a student at SLHS and continued it until she graduated last year and left to attend college. Brown had watched Amburgey's efforts and admired what she saw.
"I knew Hannah and saw her do this project," Brown said. "She graduated and went on to college, but I knew people still needed help. There are so many people who stand outside and get on the bus and are cold."
When Amburgey gave Brown her blessing to continue to Coat of Many Colors program, she jumped into action.
"I feel blessed to do it and to help out," she explained.
She also incorporated the help of her twin sister, Karlyle, who made posters and helped with the collections. Her efforts were successful - Brown managed to collect 201 coats for both adults and children as well as hats and scarves.
"It's very humbling," Brown said of the experience.
Helping people is what brings Brown joy and the utmost need she would like to eliminate is for the children who live in poverty.
"The change I would like to see in this community is to be able to provide things for kids who are in need," she said. "This is a small town and sometimes I think we think it's hard to make something of yourself. But I want to help people as much as I can."
That 'help' extends to her future goals, planning to study biochemistry and pre-med once she graduates high school.
"My ideal job would be as a pediatric dentist," she said.
That vocation would be nothing new to the Brown family, as her stepmother is Kim Boling Brown, a pediatric dentist, as is her father's twin brother's wife, Terri Brown.
This SLHS junior student is the daughter of Kyle Brown and Nicole Boling and has an identical twin sister and siblings Elise, Evan, Embry and Ava Lee Boling.
Brown is also very involved in her church youth group at Corinth Missionary Baptist Church.
"We are very close in the youth group and do outreach programs in the community," she said. "And one of the biggest influences on my life is Mrs. Howard in the Youth Service Center - she's my youth pastor's wife and has really helped me."
Brown believes one of her strongest qualities is her compassion for others and being able to put the needs of others before her own. She is upset when she sees prejudice against those who struggle to get by.
"I think we would all do better if we didn't show disrespect toward people who are less fortunate," she said. "We should all help so those people can have what they need too."
That compassion for others is how she wants her fellow classmates to think of her and to remember her in the future.
"I hope people remember me as being selfless and loving, compassionate and a good Christian friend that stays loyal to them," Brown said.
She also said she was grateful and appreciative of Amburgey for allowing her to take over the project that Amburgey founded.
"I want to thank Hannah and CAP for allowing me to do this," Brown said. "Hopefully I can start collecting in early November and even into January - and double the number of coats we got this year."