Jackson's jackets provide warmth when winter hits

Deborah Deasy
| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

His classmates might be surprised to learn about Jackson Seabolt's efforts to serve the poor.

“I'm sure they would be,” said the lacrosse-playing founder of Jackson's Jackets Winter Coat Drive.

“I get embarrassed when I talk about it at school,” said Jackson, 13, who also enjoys ice skating in North Park.

Seabolt, a seventh-grader at Pine-Richland Middle School, might be among the youngest stars in the galaxy of local givers striving to help others this holiday season.

On Thanksgiving Day, Jackson offered about 500 coats and blankets to needy people in a tent outside the Light of Life Rescue Mission on the city's North Side.

“Anybody can go in and get what they need,” he said. “They were very grateful. They all said, ‘Thank you' and ‘God bless you.'”

Residents of the Treesdale housing plan in Pine donated the winter wear recently distributed through the fourth annual Jackson's Jackets Winter Coat Drive.

“We got a lot of new things this year,” Jackson said.

Each year, Jackson puts fliers in Treesdale residents' mailboxes to announce the coat drive.

People then drop off their donations at Jackson's house or at Treesdale Community Center, where he and his parents — Tim and Dana Seabolt — sort the coats by size. Jackson's dad then delivers the collected goods, in multiple trips, to the Light of Life Rescue Mission.

“We really appreciate the coat donation Jackson gave Light of Life,” said Kate Wadsworth, public relations manager for the mission.

“Many men, women and children have a warm jacket this winter because of his efforts. It is great to see someone his age make a difference in this way.”

Jackson started his coat drive after seeing a homeless man near the former Mellon Arena following a Pittsburgh Penguins' hockey game.

“I just felt really bad for him,” Jackson said. “I asked my dad if we could start something to help the homeless.”

Jackson held his first coat and blanket giveaway at the Light of Life Rescue Mission in 2009.

Organizing the drive is a lot of work, but rewarding, according to its founder.

“You get to feel really good about it at the end of the day,” said Jackson.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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