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Frederick 8-year-old gives warmth to those in need

Saturday - 11/24/2012, 6:00am  ET

Like many 8-year-olds, Daniel Hester loves sports and video games. But Daniel also has a compassion for others beyond his years, says Chris Tressler, school counselor at New Market Elementary.

"He's a very caring guy," Tressler said. "He seems to always be thinking about how he can help other people. I don't know what Daniel needs. I don't know if he can even tell because he's always thinking about others."

After a recent visit to downtown Frederick, where he saw homeless people living without basic necessities, Daniel decided he wanted to do something. He and mother Lisa Kokal organized a coat drive in the lobby of his school for needy children and adults in the Frederick area.

"I cared about them because they didn't have the things that we have," he said. "I wanted them to be just like us and be warm. I just thought it was a good idea to give back."

Kokal said she wanted to make sure the coats would be used locally. She and Daniel approached Tressler, who is working with other schools in the county to identify areas of need where they can be distributed. The adult coats and any remaining children's coats will be donated to the Frederick Rescue Mission. The goal was originally 100 coats by Friday, but things have started out so well they decided to up it to 200, Kokal said. As of Wednesday, just six days into the drive, 78 coats were in the box. "When you get bigger numbers, you get more and more confident about breaking goals," Kokal said.

Kokal said she's hoping Thanksgiving will spur more people to donate by both giving them time to put donations together and helping put them in the giving spirit.

"You know Thanksgiving, I wish it was like every month," she said. "It makes people reflect and gives thanks. I get teary-eyed because I know there are so many out there who have so little. We all have things that we take for granted. Almost everyone has a coat in their closet they don't use."

Daniel said he couldn't be happier with how the drive has gone so far, and with the feeling he gets from helping others.

"It feels really good because you feel like you're taking action and actually doing something instead of just sitting around," he said.

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