‘Just better to help’: Zeeland East senior starts food pantry

Coronavirus

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Using money she had been saving for prom and a car, a Zeeland East senior has started her own food pantry.

Autumn Fitchett decided to help her community rather than dwell on how coronavirus is impacting her final year of high school. 

“There’s a lot of people out there that need help and need people to reach out to them,” Fitchett told News 8 Monday. “Instead of like worrying about prom or the senior all-nighter, it’s just better to help.”

She’s calling it her free little pantry. Nearly $500 of her own money has gone into the project. 

Last month, her mom posted her efforts on social media, which ultimately caught the attention of Community Action of Allegan County, also known as CAAC.

“There’s 400 people they were helping. She asked if I was interested in helping, so I said sure,” Fitchett explained. “So then I stayed up and made 160 snack bags for them.”

An artist and wants to attend Kendall College of Art and Design next year, Fitchett also left little uplifting drawings on each bag, which went to homebound senior citizens.

“It’s inspiring to me. It’s inspiring to the entire community,” Chief Financial and Operating Officer of CAAC Brenda Molendyk told News 8. “She has taken the time out of her life to make all these seniors just feel special. These are people she doesn’t know, she has not met, but she felt it in her heart that she wanted to give to the community in such a selfless way.”

Molendyk said the organization is currently operating at a rate that’s eight or nine times above normal because of the need created by closures aimed at spreading the slow of the virus. She said she wishes CAAC had 100 or 1,000 Autumn Fitchetts to support their work. 

“She has really risen to the occasion,” Molendyk added. 

Fitchett said she hopes to continue with the pantry after the pandemic is over. Neighbors have started donating items or money to help support it. 

You can learn more about Fitchett’s pantry by visiting its Facebook page

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