DECATUR, Ga.—James Monk is traveling around Georgia State University’s Perimeter College campuses via a skateboard this season, carrying a backpack stuffed with jackets and coats.
Despite the chilly temperatures, the 19-year-old Decatur Campus student isn’t carrying extra for himself. The garments represent the beginning of his drive to collect hundreds of coats for homeless individuals throughout metro Atlanta. (Editor’s update: As of Dec. 20, Monk had collected almost 400 coats.)
Monk attends classes at the Decatur Campus, where he is enrolled in the college’s student success program, Georgia State’s Learning Income Family Transformation (LIFT) Perimeter Academy. Along with providing academic coaching and tutoring, the academy encourages students to get involved in their communities. That idea was strengthened for Monk at his church.
“I went to a program at my church called Inside/Out that really inspired me, and I realized that I wanted to make a difference outside of myself,” he said. “I wanted to do more as a student here.”
He decided to start a clothing drive to distribute coats to where they are needed.
Working with the Perimeter College collegiate chapter of 100 Black Men of DeKalb, Monk will be collecting coats and jackets from businesses around the city. He also is working with shelters that receive more donations than they can use.
“The shelters often donate those coats to thrift stores,” he said.
Monk is taking the coats he collects to My Big Sister’s House, an overnight homeless shelter for women and children in Atlanta, and Covenant House, an Atlanta homeless shelter for teenagers.
“James cares about issues affecting people’s everyday life and seeks ways to address them,” said Des Potier, Georgia State LIFT program director. “A perfect example is his willingness to serve others with the coat drive.”
The need exists, especially during the winter months, Monk said. New or slightly worn coats and jackets can be donated to the Georgia State LIFT offices on the Decatur Campus (second floor, A building) through Dec. 21. (The college is closed Dec. 22-Jan. 6 for winter break). Monk plans to continue to collect and distribute the coats all winter.