Sarah Grace practically grew up in the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She’s a third-generation member who joined the chapter at age 19.
Her mother, Rachel Grace, is an active member and former regent, or president, and her grandmother, Evelyn Williams Grace, was also a member.
So in May 2009, when then 28-year-old Sarah Grace was elected the youngest regent in the chapter’s history, she decided to do a regent’s project with the Crossnore School in Crossnore, N.C.
Crossnore, one of eight schools sponsored by the national DAR, is located in the mountains not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade who have been removed from their homes for any number of reasons.
“It can be poverty, abuse or any type welfare issue,” Sarah Grace said. “There are kids who go there from extreme poverty-stricken areas of North Carolina. The school does receive money from the government, but 95 percent of the money given to it is through grants or DAR donations.”
Sarah Grace adopted two cottages — one with eight girls and one with seven boys. Working with the Baton Rouge Chapter DAR, she sent about 2,000 items, including 400 pounds of clothing to the children in her cottages during her two years as regent.
Early in the process, Sarah Grace talked with some of the girls.
“They wanted hygiene products,” Grace said. “One little girl said she wanted her own hairbrush.”
Grace, who at the time was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, was touched by the little girl’s request.“I said, ‘I don’t have any hair, but I have six hairbrushes. You would think that there is nowhere in America that there should be somebody who doesn’t have her own hairbrush,” Sarah Grace said.
When she reported this conversation to her chapter, the members were overwhelmed.
“They took to it,” said Rachel Grace. “As soon as she told the story of the little girl who wanted her own hairbrush, it touched their hearts.”
Sarah Grace and members of the Baton Rouge Chapter began collecting items for the children.
The first box she sent had hairbrushes and beach items for the children to use at a beach house donated to the school.
“Each summer, each cottage gets to go to the beach house and spend a week,” Sarah Grace said.
In July 2010, Sarah and Rachel Grace and chapter members Zora Olsson and her daughter, Laurel, traveled to North Carolina to deliver bags of hygiene products to the boys and girls in the two adopted cottages.
As soon as they returned from the summer trip, Sarah Grace began collecting items for Christmas. This time, she and members of the chapter had enough items to give each child 17 packages including a portable CD player donated by Best Buy and a $40 Walmart gift card.
As a special treat, chapter member Mary Lynn Jackson’s knitting group made hats and scarves for the children.
In November, Sarah and Rachel Grace traveled to North Carolina to distribute the gifts.
It was a wonderful day, Sarah Grace said.
“The girls really enjoyed getting the packages and opening the packages,” she said. “They appreciated what we were doing for them. We made them feel extra special that day.”
However, when Sarah Grace returned to Baton Rouge from the Christmas delivery, she had to begin a new round of chemotherapy.
“When I got back from the November trip, I started the next Monday,” she said.
In May, Sarah Grace’s term as regent of the Baton Rouge Chapter ended. But her personal battle continues as she fights colon cancer for the fifth time since 2007.