- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

CHERRYVILLE, N.C. (AP) - For children in dire need of clothing, she became a hero.

Cherryville High senior Jalie Creech made it her mission to provide clothing for disadvantaged students in her community. During her freshman year, the 15-year-old was picking up her cousins at Cherryville Elementary when she realized many students lacked adequate clothing for the cold winter weather.

“Probably half the kids didn’t have a coat or were in flip-flops in the winter,” she said. “Some, their pants were too short.”

With the approval of the elementary school’s principal, Creech set out to help. She distributed collection bins at churches in the Cherryville area, with written notes asking people to donate clothing. She returned a few weeks later and found the collection bins overflowing with donations.

She laundered the items and put together outfits for about 50 children from Cherryville Elementary and Beam Intermediate. After calling parents and informing them of the clothing drive, Creech organized a pick-up night at First United Methodist Church in Cherryville. She greeted each parent and student and presented them with their clothes.

“It was a really awesome feeling because they were all so appreciative and the children were so excited,” she said. “I felt very blessed that everyone had come together in our town to help the children.”

More than a student: Creech excelled academically, as well as philanthropically. She earned The Gazette’s Best & Brightest scholarship in April. She also earned honors such as the Junior Civitan Outstanding Citizen Award, Junior Marshal National Honor Society and three Academic Excellence Subject Awards, and was named an Outstanding Student North Carolina Scholar Athlete.

She has been a competitive cheerleader for 13 years and is a four-year member of the Cherryville High varsity cheerleading team. She has competed in state and national competitions and was named to the 2014 North Carolina All-State Team.

“It showed me the importance of teamwork,” said Creech, of her cheerleading career.

Creech was involved in student government while serving as her school’s advisor to the superintendent. She graduated Junior Leadership Gaston in her junior year, a highly selective year-long program where she learned about the history and workings of Gaston County. She also participated in Tar Heel Girls’ State and the Commissioner’s School of Excellence.

Creech will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall. She will major in journalism and pre-law, with hopes to attend law school in the future.

Though she does not plan to continue cheerleading in college, Creech hopes to re-launch her clothing drive campaign in the Chapel Hill area.

“I hope to pick it up and do it on a larger scale and help more people,” she said.

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Information from: The Gaston Gazette, http://www.gastongazette.com

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