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Beloved Tucker High custodian who started 'giving closet' for students in need dies

Carolyn Collins was a mother and a friend to countless students who went out of her way to show she cared.

TUCKER, Ga. — Editor's note: This video above is from a previous story. 

Heaven has a new angel. But then again, Carolyn Collins was already an angel on Earth to many who knew her.

She was a mother, a friend to countless students, and a woman who went out of her way to show she cared for others. Collins passed away on Dec. 28.

"These are our babies," Collins told 11Alive's Liza Lucas the first time they met five years ago. "They just want to learn. I just want to take care of them. Some of them sleeping in cars, some in hotels."

That was in 2017, and Collins had already found her calling, a "giving closet" the custodian operated out of Tucker High School after seeing students go without the basic needs.

Some students, she learned at the time, were dropped off early and hungry with no where to go. Her mission is also motivated by the loss of her son, who was killed during a home invasion.

I'm just trying to stop our young boys from stealing and killing," Collins said, adding she suspects the reasons for the crimes often are the outcome of homelessness and a cry for help.

"I'm trying to give 'em all they need in this closet," said Collins.

She often kept the closet stocked with supplies, clothes and food, often paid for with money from her own pocket.

But after 11Alive and others learned of her big heart, Collins mission got the attention it deserved. TEGNA, our parent company, featured her on HeartThreads. The story went viral with more than a million views. Collins even got a trip to Los Angeles to visit The Steve Harvey Show. Harvey surprised her with a shopping spree for her closet along with money for Collins to spend on herself.

But the attention never shifted her focus. Her mission to help others remained.

“I’m still the same person," said Collins. "Now, just a lot of the community is involved. Churches are involved. The school is involved."

Collins leaves behind a husband of 35 years, her children and grandchildren, and a school and community that loved her.


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