Monday, February 22, 2016

Cara McCollum, Forrest City native and Miss America contestant, dies after car wreck

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 10:29 AM

click to enlarge otc_cara_121203.jpg
Cara McCollum, a Forrest City native who won the Miss New Jersey pageant and competed for Miss America during a break from attending Princeton, died early this morning, a week after her car spun off a New Jersey highway and crashed into trees. She was 24.

She was an anchor for SNJ Today, a news show in the southern New Jersey area.

Her platform, during her Miss America run, was youth literacy. It was a cause she had worked on since high school, when she was one of our Academic All-Stars. From her profile in 2010:

Cara says her achievement started with a love of reading. She wrote in her All-Star application essay that books have taken her around the world, from Sierra Leone with child soldiers to California with Dust Bowl Okies. More concretely, the learning they inspired took her to the Duke Talent Identification Program, where she studied dystopian literature, and to the Interlochen Summer Academy, where she worked on creative writing.

Reading isn't a selfish pursuit. Cara started a monthly story time at the Boys and Girls Club. She donated more than 1,000 books to a children's library. She started a countywide Birthday Book program for poor children aged 5-10, an outgrowth of the Christmas-time Toys for Tots campaign. Parents who registered for toys also were provided a book. She later expanded the birthday book program to a local elementary school, with a gift book for every child. Cara's work made her a finalist in the annual Daniel Cayce Award competition for youth volunteerism.

Her family posted this video of her on the Facebook page Prayers for Cara

 
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