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Philanthropist changes lives

Lawmakers in Columbus would be well served to follow the lead set by a native of the city who understands the needs of Appalachia — and has worked hard to do her part.

Even when she was just a young child.

Emily Douglas never lived in Ironton, or even Appalachia, but the young woman was inspired by her grandmother’s legacy and the plight of those in need in this region that she founded Grandma’s Gifts, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing life and educational opportunities in Appalachia.

All at the tender young age of 11.

In the years since, Douglas’ organization has gone on to touch the lives of thousands of people.

Since the organization was founded in 1993, Douglas and her co-volunteers have distributed more than 650,000 books to Appalachian schools, 10,000 pounds of canned food to shelters and food banks, countless coats and clothing, thousands of school supplies and a multitude of other necessities.

In addition to tangible items, Grandma’s Gifts has been the sponsor for academic programs like COSI on Wheels and trips to the Columbus Zoo.

This young woman should be an inspiration to all human beings, proof that the goodness inside each of us and the power of the human heart can truly change lives in so many ways.

And it all starts with a single decision and commitment to make a difference.

“Not only has it changed my life,” she said, “but I hope it has changed someone else’s life, too.”

Rest assured, Emily, it has. And hopefully, your legacy will inspire others to make a difference just as your grandmother inspired you.