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Treesdale boy is a cut above many in generosity

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 11:38 p.m.
Jackson Seabolt sorts some of the coats he organized for Jackson's Jackets in a tent outside of the Light of Life Rescue Mission Thursday November 22, 2012 on the North Side. Since 2009, Seabolt, now 12 years old, has been collecting coats for people in need. Last year, he collected 450 coats to give away at Light of Life Rescue Mission’s Thanksgiving Day meal. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Four stitches to his right middle finger — courtesy of the Allegheny General Hospital emergency room — did not dampen Jackson Seabolt's spirit for his charitable Thanksgiving Day endeavor.

Jackson, 12, is the founder of Jackson's Jackets, a program to collect and distribute coats on Thanksgiving Day to people in need at Light of Life Rescue Mission in the North Side.

Jackson, as well as his parents and 10-year-old brother, Hudson, were helping people pick from among 600 coats inside a large tent, when Jackson cut his finger while using a pocket knife to remove a new coat's tag.

After walking with his father, Tim Seabolt, 44, to the nearby hospital for treatment, the two returned to finish working.

“I think it went pretty good besides the accident. It went really well actually,” said Jackson of Treesdale in Allegheny County.

In 2009, Jackson was inspired to create a program to help people after seeing a homeless man leave a Penguins game with his father. Jackson's parents contacted Light of Life, which agreed to support and publicize the coat drive.

Founded in 1952, Light of Life Rescue Mission is a nonprofit that offers drug and alcohol recovery programs, a shelter and a men's residential program.

The Seabolts like Light of Life's mission, said Jackson's mother, Dana Nover-Seabolt, 41.

“Yes, because it's helping people find a way to get back on their feet again and get rid of any addictions that they might have to live a better life,” she said.

For the first coat drive, the Seabolts posted signs and collection bins at Treesdale Community Center and on their front porch.

They asked for “gently used” or new coats, which led to the collection of almost 200 coats, Nover-Seabolt said.

In 2010, they expanded their efforts by distributing fliers to about 1,200 Treesdale homes and collected about 350 coats, she said.

“But last year, when we got 450, we were amazed and astonished and so appreciative,” she said.

Dwayne Johnson, 45, has been a Light of Life shelter resident on and off for eight months, he said, and on Thursday received a new black coat.

“The food and the coats is beautiful, but the spirit (of the volunteers) is even better,” Johnson said.

Any coats not distributed on Thanksgiving are given out during the mission's Dec. 21 holiday meal.

The mission served 1,000 free Thanksgiving meals at its headquarters on East North Avenue and delivered 500 meals to elderly and disabled people in high-rise apartments, said Jessi Marsh, director of development.

One server was Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who has been volunteering at the mission since at least 2007, he said.

“I really enjoy coming out and doing it. … They do good work for the community,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. She canbe reached at 412-380-5662or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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