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Berkmar students help those in need stay warm
Middle school collects winter clothes for Lilburn Co-op

LILBURN - Berkmar Middle is doing its part to make sure Lilburn residents stay warm this winter.

The school collected winter coats, jackets, sweaters and other clothes for two weeks. On Wednesday, the school's eighth-grade peer leaders loaded more than 20 boxes of clothes into a sport utility vehicle so counselor Ron Brown could deliver the items to Lilburn Cooperative Ministry.

The students decided to wrap the boxes with colored paper "to make them look like gifts," Brown said. "They really are gifts."

Donations continued to pour in Wednesday morning, and Brown said he was "amazed" with the response.

Berkmar Middle is a Title I school that receives additional federal funding because many of its students are economically disadvantaged. More than 70 percent of the student population is eligible for free and reduced lunch, and many of the school's families are served by the Lilburn Co-op, Brown said.

"One of the reasons we picked the Lilburn Co-op is because we want to create a school community, and a large part of that is giving back to the community," Brown said. "It's only right for us to be able to give back to them when we use them so often."

Student Julie Lu said she thinks it's important for everyone to give back. She said she's happy the warm clothes will help make a difference in the community.

"It's going to help a lot of people during Christmas," she said.

Jose Fallas agreed, saying he's glad the school would support the people in the community who need things and can use the donations.

Many groups donate canned goods during the holidays, but Brown said the students came up with the idea to collect winter clothes. It was still warm when items began coming in, but temperatures in Gwinnett began to drop last weekend.

"It's so great for us for these kids to be able to come up with this, especially at this age," said Brown, the peer leader coordinator. "They really are leaders in the school. They set high standards for the other students."