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Volunteer carries on legacy of late father, a beloved Buncombe County principal

Our reluctant Person of the Week, Cindy Estes, has a familiar name to many in Buncombe County. Estes Elementary is named after her late father, William, and she gives back to the community to honor an already huge legacy. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Our reluctant Person of the Week, Cindy Estes, has a familiar name to many in Buncombe County. Estes Elementary is named after her late father, William, and she gives back to the community to honor an already huge legacy.

"Every one of these was donated by someone that brought it in," Cindy says of a wealth of clothing at Eblen Charities. She works year round on the effort that culminated this week with the winter coat distribution.

Behind an effort that sometimes feels like organized chaos, she's a calming influence.

"This is like Christmas for me in a way," says Cindy.

She can be painfully shy, but that hasn't stopped her from stepping up for the community.

"I don't know, I just like organizing," she said. "And I like to see people get coats that they need."

Behind the scenes, she helps organize thousands of donations collected by partners, including News 13 and Carolina Furniture Concepts in the spring.

"And she's here almost every day, sorting and sizing," says Eblen executive director Bill Murdock.

On a day like this, she can't help but think of her late father, who's practically a household name in south Buncombe County.

"He would be proud. I think he'd like it," she said. "My dad was pretty well known in this county."

Outside the classroom, William Estes led his family by example, and Cindy obviously paid attention.

"He was always helping people. He'd never tell anybody about it," she recalls.

Murdock has fond memories of Mr. Estes -- well, mostly.

"Her dad was my grade school principal," he said. "First time I got sent the office was Mr. Estes's office for acting up on the bus. I think I was totally innocent."

He can see the influence of the elder Estes on Cindy.

"Cindy has gotten that from a family of educators and a family that has served this family for years and years," Murdock said.

A simple mantra is now part of the Estes family philosophy.

"Be fair to everybody, treat everyone the same," she said.

Cindy still does her best to make her dad proud.

"I think about him every day, but especially days like today," she said.

Sometimes, we look for the loudest voice in the room for leadership, but Cindy clearly doesn't want that kind of attention.

"I'm glad it's over with," she said after the interview was over.

Her understated leadership is part of a family history of giving back.

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