PHOTO: Eight grader Nathan Keaton collected hundreds of blankets for the homeless last year. This year, he’s making stocking filled with toiletries, warm gloves and snacks. / Photo courtesy of Nathan Gives Back
By MATT BLOIS
A Nolensville middle schooler is collecting Christmas season donations for the homeless.
Nathan Keaton is an eighth grader at Mill Creek Middle School. He likes playing football and the video game Fortnite.
Last year, Keaton had three things on his Christmas list. He wanted a trampoline, toys for his family’s cats and blankets for the homeless.
His mother Jennifer Keaton said she was surprised by the request, but decided to help him find the blankets.
Nathan, along with help from friends and family, collected about 200 blankets last year and he decided to keep going.
“I asked people around Nolensville for blankets and they donated them to us,” Nathan said. “We gave them to the Bridge ministry. We still had a ton left, so then we went over to Room at the Inn and donated those to them.”
Room at the Inn and the Bridge Ministry are organizations that serve people who are poor, homeless or don’t have access to food.
This year, he’s putting together stockings filled with toiletries, warms gloves, snacks and bottled water. Donors can also write encouraging notes for the stockings. He’s hoping the community in Nolensville will donate enough items for 300 stockings.
Nathan has a donation box at Mama’s Java where residents can drop off items for the stockings.
Jennifer Keaton also helps Nathan maintain a Facebook page for the project. Anyone interested in donating can also contact the family through that page.
The Keaton family recently moved to Nolensville from Arkansas. Jennifer Keaton said it was a big change for Nathan, and her whole family.
“Our first winter here was the first time he was really exposed to individuals living on the streets,” Jennifer Keaton said. “That’s not something common in northwest Arkansas. It was something very eye opening to him.”
Nathan said his favorite part of the project is handing out the donations and seeing how the recipients reacts. He said the people who receive the donations are always grateful.
For his birthday last August, Nathan brought a shaved ice truck to Room at the Inn and handed out shaved ice to hundreds of people. He said he wanted to bring the shaved ice truck to Room at the Inn because he thought everyone should have choices.
He has also donated thousands of popsicles to Room at the Inn in July. Jennifer Keaton said it was 105 degrees when they delivered the popsicles.
On December 8, Nathan plans to host an event at Nolen’s Place to put the stockings together. He’s looking for volunteers to help fill the stockings between 10 a.m. and noon.