Hills teen’s coat drive warms hearts in Detroit

Hundreds of Detroit residents are a little warmer, thanks to the efforts of a Farmington Hills teen who spearheaded a drive that netted more than 2,000 coats, scarves, gloves, sweaters, and vests delivered to a Detroit nonprofit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Amanda Nicole Hall, 16, a junior at North Farmington High, coordinated the drive through Brightmoor Church in Novi. She said she came up with the idea in the summer of 2014, while attending the Leadership and Global Health program at Brown University.

“I thought of the idea because it’s really cold in Michigan,” she said. “My mom brought the idea to my church, and they supplied everything I needed.”

The church also connected her with a recipient: Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) in Detroit, lead by Sheilah Clay. The nonprofit provides a range of services to people in need across the Detroit metropolitan area.

Shortly after Christmas, new and gently used clothing items came pouring in through the church, Franklin Road Christian School, and other organizations and individuals. Working with a few volunteers, Hall sorted items on Saturday, bagging everything by size, then delivered it all to the NSO Bell Building.

Clay, who served as keynote speaker for Brightmoor’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast, said the line for the “Coats for the Community” distribution stretched outside the building and far down the street. As vice president of the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education, she also felt a sense of pride in Hall’s accomplishment.

“Amanda wanted to make a difference, she wanted to do something that would really have an impact on people,” Clay said. “That spirit of giving was instilled in her, and she put that thought into action.”

During the distribution, young volunteers escorted recipients to the clothing tables, acting as personal shoppers. Clay said that gave Hall and her friends the opportunity to “see the faces of the people who benefitted from the work they did.”

Hall said she was surprised to see the turnout, and unfortunately, the demand exceeded the supply. She found everyone very appreciative and said she plans to make the drive an annual event.

“There was one lady who came in wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and it was so cold that day,” Hall said. “She got a coat, and I was happy to see that.”