The past couple of months have been a difficult time for all of us. Job and food security have become an increased struggle while we stay home and take the proper precautions to ensure our community remains safe and healthy. With no final celebration to commemorate the last twelve years of their lives, it is especially a difficult time for graduating high school seniors. Autumn Fitchett, a Zeeland East senior, refused to let the abrupt halt of her social life stop her from helping her community.
Her own family has had challenges that they had to overcome, and her parents taught her no matter what, to be thankful for everything because there is always someone out there that has struggles even greater than yours. When Autumn realized she would not be going to prom and saw the growing need of people becoming food insecure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she wanted to put the money she had saved up for the night to help people in the community and decided to start a small food pantry.
She started buying snacks and food and set up a little pantry in her front yard so people in need of food could help themselves. Looking to increase her impact, Autumn reached out into the community and connected with Brenda Molendyk, Chief Operating Officer of Community Action of Allegan County (CAAC). Brenda Molendyk mentioned that there are many homebound senior citizens in Allegan County who are food insecure and that they would adore some snacks as a special treat. Autumn took that idea and ran with it, using the rest of the money she had saved to put together 164 snack bags for senior citizens participating in Community Action of Allegan County’s home delivered meals program.
Autumn even went the extra mile and decorated the bags so that each one was unique, in order to bring a smile to every senior. Her goal is to make 400 bags and is trying to raise additional money so that she can continue to help brighten the lives of senior citizens in Allegan County.
Autumn credits her parents, family and teachers for inspiring her to make the bags for seniors. As she continues the project and to see the daily struggle and needs of others, finding a way to make a positive impact on their lives inspires her to want to do more.
Autumn challenges the Class of 2020 and the entire community to join her in her efforts, sharing the following message with her peers, “We are in unique times. We have been through the post 9-11 world changes, multiple school shootings, SARS and now COVID-19. We are the ones that have a clear path for our future. As sad as we are feeling and feeling robbed of celebrating our time, there are others in very tough situations that we need to focus on helping, and that will help us celebrate, feel accomplished and leave a legacy of true community.”