TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A local mother is turning suffering to strength after the loss of her son.
Terre Haute teen Garrett Sands was shot at a party and later died. His mother says she finds healing in doing good deeds in her son's memory.
The Remember Garrett Sands Facebook page has a new name. It is now the Garrett Sands Kindness Project. Garrett's mom, Jayna Sullivan, says the change is a reflection of the action she hopes to take in the community to remember her son and improve the lives of others.
Sullivan has organized past projects but now has a sharpened vision for the impact she wishes to have in her town. She is working with her family on a new project to make Terre Haute "prettier."
She says, "We hope that what people see in the area is grass and not trash."
Sullivan is spreading kindness through simple acts like picking up trash.
Sullivan says, "There's a lot more that you don't see when you drive at regular speed but if you slow down you can really see what's there."
She's organizing two trash pick-up days to bring beauty to the community while honoring Garrett. The first clean-up is this Saturday, June 30th from 9 am to noon. Sullivan plans to sweep a two-mile stretch along South 3rd Street.
If you cannot be there, Sullivan says, find another street and collect trash. She wants you to snap a picture and share on the Garrett Sands Kindness Project Facebook page.
Sullivan says, "It can be spread out and people can do it at their convenience at any time of the day or a different day."
The second trash pick-up day is July 14th and a location has yet to be decided.
It makes sense Sullivan would choose this act of kindness to remember her son. She says it's something they would do together.
Sullivan says, "Garrett and I would go jogging, especially around the Indiana (Veteran's Memorial) Mile which is a place we went to a lot. We would pick up trash on our last round and then just dump it in the trash can they have there."
"He actually would love to join me if he was here. He would be proud of the things that we are doing for him. I think he would just have the biggest smile knowing that this is in honor of him."
Sullivan says the Facebook page and past acts of kindness have helped her and her family cope with the terrible loss.
"He's in our hearts and that's what drives us to do more and more because we gain strength just knowing the kind of young man that he was."
"I think that coming together in this way has been a very powerful tool in our healing. It doesn't take our pain away but it helps us come together and suffer together but do something positive out of what happened to our family."
If you want to help collect trash this Saturday remember to wear a brightly colored shirt and bring gloves if you have them.
For more information visit the Garrett Sands Kindness Project on Facebook.