mema’s closet

As some of you may know, several years ago I (along with my Mama, sister, & family) created an initiative to collect coats and winter clothing for members of the community that are in need, Mema’s Closet. Inspired my Mema, the late Faye Leggett, it is a project near and dear to my heart. For those who aren’t aware, this is where it all began…

In 2005, I graduated from high school in the spring and dove straight into my freshman year of college. My Mema, whom I was as close to as my mother, was inspired by a USA Weekend’s Make a Difference Day article. She then decided to make it her mission to collect coats and other winter items for needy families and children in the Sylvester area. I remember vividly her asking me to help her. She said she just knew I’d be able to help her collect lots of coats. As a typical teenager, I made a mental note, but was preoccupied with my life and what I thought at the time was important. Oh what I’d give to go back in time.

On Tuesday, November 1, 2005, I received shocking news that my Mema had passed away. To family and friends, this was a complete surprise. To our knowledge, she was healthy and most of us had seen her the day before. She seemed fine, healthy, happy, her normal self. She passed away due to a severe heart attack. In the days proceeding, I don’t remember much – it was all a blur. The reality was, I’d lost one of my best friends, my Mema. It was definitely one of the hardest moments I’ve ever had to face.

As time passed and we began sifting through her belongings, we discovered a closet full of coats. For those of you who knew Mema, you know she loved to collect things – from toiletries to clothing. Today’s society may have called her a hoarder. At first sight to most, it appeared she’d added coats to her stockpile – but not to me. Instantly, I was reminded of our numerous conversations about collecting coats for Make a Difference Day. I was reminded that I’d neglected the efforts and contributed not even one coat. It was that point in time that I knew, I had to complete what she had started. It was there in that moment that Mema’s Closet first began.

Each year, around this time – my mom, sister, family, and I began collecting winter clothing for those in need. Initially our efforts were focused on the Sylvester community, but after 7 years of collecting, we’ve expanded the area to Albany, Sylvester, and Valdosta. Winter coats are preferred, but we accept scarves, hats, socks, and gloves too. (Basically anything to keep one warm!) 

In our first year of collecting, we were blessed with 500+ coats to distribute throughout the Sylvester community. Alone, Mema had collected over 100 coats! Since then, 2000+ coats have been collected and distributed to those in need throughout the Albany, Sylvester, and Valdosta areas. We’ve been so blessed in the past to have local schools, churches, and businesses contribute. If you are interested in finding out more or contributing to the 2012 coat drive, please visit or contact me here.

This fall, Justin and I challenge you to make a difference! Start a canned food drive, volunteer at a homeless shelter, offer to drive an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, or initiate Mema’s Closet in your community – the options are endless.  The official Make a Difference Day will be Saturday, October 27, 2012. Will you make a difference?

take our challenge. we dare you!
the newlyweds


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