MARKS, MS (WMC) - For this month’s Mid-South Hero, we take you to Marks, Mississippi where a retiree’s plans to vacation were put on hold for a higher calling.
After working for 30 years, Linda Keys made the decision to retire, but it would be five boys and a trip to McDonalds that would change her retirement plans completely.
“It was a really, really cold morning and my mother insisted that she wanted McDonalds,” Keys said.
Keys bundled up, hopped in the car and headed around the block.
“Two blocks away from our home there were kids on a corner with no coats and it was in the thirties,” Keys said.
Keys said in that moment, her “grandmother mode” kicked in. Concerned for their safety and well-being, Keys invited them to sit in her car until the bus arrived.
“After the children got out of the car, that's when the emotional side kicked in,” Keys said.
Keys decided to head to Walmart and buy coats, just in case she saw them again – and she did.
“I said ‘guys, look in the bag I got you something, two in the front three in the back,’” Keys said. “You would think it was Christmas morning all over again.”
In that moment, Mississippi Coats4Kidz was created.
Keys started with 50 coats in 2015. In 2018, the organization handed out 5,012 coats to kids in counties all over Mississippi.
“I put a coat on a kid, it feels special,” Keys said. “I want that kid to feel like they can compete. ‘I'm just as important as anybody else.’”
Keys' good deeds caught the attention of two volunteers who have helped her make sure kids less fortunate have a warm coat.
Keys has been working with Donna Taylor and Normand Cotee for the past few years. Cotee actually found out about Mississippi Coats 4Kidz after reading an article in the local newspaper.
“I called her, she came to Batesville,” Cotee said. “I took her to lunch and from that day on, we’re partners and we’re working together.”
“Mississippi Coats 4 KIdz is a positive thing for the community and our goal is to reach all 82 counties in the state of Mississippi,” Taylor said.
Linda Keys, thanks to your selflessness and your mission to help those less fortunate, you are this month’s Mid-South Hero!
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