A group of girls from Achieve Charter Academy in Canton decided to fight hunger one empty grocery bag at a time.
That’s right – empty.
Canton-based Open Door Ministry already has a food supply it distributes every week to more than 450 families, mostly in western Wayne County.
But, the ministry needed plastic grocery bags so volunteers could pack apples, tomatoes, onions and numerous other food items that struggling families pick up from a warehouse on Lilley Road, south of Michigan Avenue.
That’s where Girl Scouts Junior Troop 40559 from Achieve Charter Academy helped, launching a school-wide plastic grocery bag drive to help Open Door Ministry, where some Achieve Charter students already had volunteered.
“I think we collected close to a million bags,” Stephanie Abughannam, one of three troop leaders, said.
Organizers using a car and two mini-vans made multiple trips to Open Door Ministry to deliver the plastic grocery bags, which they had packed into much larger bags.
“I thought it was good because we can help people who are in need,” Abughannam’s daughter, 10-year-old Mya, said.
Open Door Ministry Director Steve Darr said the organization gets about 25,000 pounds of food each week – and he estimated 25 percent of it has to be bagged up. He said Achieve Charter Academy students, aside from their earlier volunteer efforts, came through again.
“It is awesome,” Darr said. “This is not just a one-time thing for the kids from that school. They’re a great bunch of kids. We love them.”
Troop 40559 took on the grocery bag project as it tries to earn its bronze award from the Girl Scouts of America. The troop has 15 members, all fifth-grade girls, led by Abughannam and leaders Valerie Stone and Lynn Longridge.
The entire school, kindergarten through eighth grade, got involved. The class collecting the most grocery bags – Mrs. Ziolkowski’s kindergarten class – won a free pizza party from the Jet’s Pizza shop near Cherry Hill and Canton Center.
“We were not expecting the turnout we got,” Abughannam said. “Some mothers brought in three big cases with 1,000 bags each.”
Organizers say students never tired to collecting bags, delivered earlier this month to Open Door Ministry. Every day they brought in bags – bags filled with a giving spirit and, eventually, with food.