MOUNT VERNON, Ky. — Hannah Amburgey had a dream that generosity could save lives. This was the beginning of her campaign to collect coats so that other children in Eastern Kentucky would not be cold during the winter months. This year she collected 290 coats.
“In the Bible, Joseph’s father believed that he was destined for greatness by God,” said the 17-year-old junior at South Laurel High School. “His father gave him a coat of many colors. I know I can accomplish my dreams. My dream for this project is to have a great impact.”
“Coat of Many Colors” started in 2015 by word of mouth and posts on social media. Friends, family and neighbors in Laurel County quickly joined with Amburgey to fulfil her dream. In the inaugural year, she collected 249 coats. She surpassed that mark this year and the community is still donating coats although her Nov. 16 deadline has passed.
“When I was in elementary school, I had a burden for other children that I would see on the bus with no winter coat even when it was snowing,” Amburgey said. “My parents made sure that I had a warm winter coat and I just started to think everyone should have a winter coat. It went from those beginning thoughts to when I decided that I should do something about it.”
Amburgey, a member of the Laurel County Youth Leadership Council, was particularly moved by coal miners in neighboring Clay County who have lost their jobs, as well as children being raised by grandparents and others due to rising addiction rates in southeast Kentucky. These social factors are contributing to children not having basic needs met.
“It was amazing to see my small community come together to donate coats,” said the London, KY native. “I was raised to believe that it is better to give than to receive and I have experienced that with ‘Coat of Many Colors.’”
Amburgey partnered with Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) to make sure the coats, new and gently used, get to the children who need them most. On the very day that Amburgey and her mother, Shantel, delivered coats to CAP’s Family Advocacy Program, there were two little boys in need of winter coats.
“Today we will be able to fill an immediate need due to Hannah’s kindness,” said Liz Phelps, CAP Family Advocacy Program. “We distribute the coats through local school resource centers, social service offices, as well as other CAP Programs wherever there is the greatest need.”
“I’ve always had a love for others and helping where I can,” added the teen who also volunteers at The Creek Church as well as The Laurel County Life Center, which helps teen mothers. “We all can make a difference if we do something right where we are, no matter how large or small.”