What started out as a requirement for confirmation class and National Junior Honor Society turned into a teachable moment that has inspired one Frankfort eighth grader to do more.
Summit Hill Junior High School student Allie Fortier was looking for a project that would fulfill service hours for her church confirmation class, as well as meet the project requirements of her NJHS membership. Her mom, Cheryl, is a dental hygienist at Treasured Smiles in Frankfort, and had a patient tell her about the Frankfort Township Food Pantry and how they are always looking to restock their shelves.
After Allie heard about the food pantry needs, she decided to organize a food drive before the holidays.
"I live in Frankfort, and I thought it would be a really good thing to do to help people here," she shared.
Allie and her family got 100 grocery bags and spent Sunday, October 28, walking around their Plank Trail Estates neighborhood handing them out. They ran out of bags before they ran out of houses.
"We probably could have done 200 or 250," said Cheryl."I didn't realize what I was getting into," she added with a chuckle.
Each bag contained a letter explaining who Allie is and what the bag was for. It also shared the pantry wish list and gave instructions for leaving the bag out for pick up the following Friday or contacting Cheryl for a different pick up time.
"I was a little bit nervous about talking to people, but if they were out in their yards, I just went up and told them what I was doing. People were very friendly about it. They really wanted to help," said Allie.
When Friday arrived, Allie and her family piled into their minivan and began the pick up...which took far longer than expected as the neighbors had been very generous. Cheryl said she filled her van twice, transporting 81 bags of food to her garage until they could make the delivery to the township office on Monday, October 29. A few latecomers meant Cheryl brought a second delivery of 4 bags and a box full of food on Tuesday.
"I wasn't expecting as much as I got. I was really overwhelmed," Allie shared. "The food pantry (staff) was very grateful because they didn't have a lot in stock. I want to do another one in January or February after the holidays because they'll be low again."
"It was a great family project to be involved in," added Cheryl. "I just couldn't believe the response. And maybe if people read this and get inspired...just imagine, if one kid in every neighborhood did this for the food pantry how stocked it would be all the time! That would be a great thing!"