SHREVEPORT, La. - A family's personal tragedy has inspired a young girl to take action. About a month ago, 10-year-old Peyton Hamilton was devastated to learn her Uncle Ricky had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. At the time, he was homeless in Colorado and was trying to light a lamp inside a tent.
Family photos show Ricky smiling as he holds an infant Peyton. She says she didn't get to see him a lot because of the distance but the family was close and would talk often.
"He was a very funny person," Hamilton recalled, grinning from ear to ear. "He could always get a smile out of you. If there was anything he could do best, that was it."
Hamilton wrote an essay about the dangers of carbon monoxide for a class assignment. On top of that, she's collecting blankets in his memory. She wants to personally give them to members of the homeless population in Shreveport in time for Christmas.
She's also accepting jackets and hoodies in new or excellent condition, as well as monetary donations to buy new jackets and blankets. As of Friday, she's collected about fifty but hopes for at least another hundred more.
"I just wanted no one else to have to go through what we went through and how traumatizing it was," Hamilton said. "I really hope I can get joy from this because we need that in the world right now."
Hamilton's not even old enough to sign up for a Facebook account, so her family is helping. They're collecting donations through Dec. 9. You can bring blankets and jackets to Strawn's Eat Shop on Kings Highway, and ask for Karen. Donations are also being accepted at Casa Jimador on Line Avenue, if you ask for Tiffanie.
Right now, they plan to give out the blankets, sweatshirts and hoodies personally in downtown Shreveport in early December. Even before she finished collecting for this year, Hamilton says she'd like to continue the project every year.