The mission of LoveWorks is to inspire others to pay kindness forward and to celebrate those within the community who do just that.
Fairfield High School senior Madi Dunn is an inspiration in paying kindness forward to her fellow students, said Angie Kenworthy, the organization’s committee chair. So she wanted to honor Dunn on Valentine’s Day.
Back in 2016, Dunn’s mother, Aimee, who is a teacher within the school district, talked about the Shared Harvest Backpack program, which gives grade school children who may not have enough food to eat meals for the weekend during the school year. The high school doesn’t have anything like that, and she wanted to do something to help her classmates who may need that extra boost.
“We heard about Madi’s story and the food bank she started here at the high school, and based on her reaching out and caring about other students, and seeing an action that needed to be done and she took action to care,” she said. “So we took action to celebrate her (Wednesday).”
LoveWorks donated food and toiletry supplies acquired through private donations and Matthew 25 Ministries.
“I’m proud she took the initiative to start something new in the school, and I know how challenging that can be — and she didn’t give up,” said Aimee Dunn.
“I’m just proud of what she’s doing in the support of the community,” said her father, Tony.
During the summer of her junior year, Dunn asked assistant principal Austin Sanders about a high school backpack program, and “by the grace of God” they found a vacant room that had over the years served various purposes.
“He granted this room to me, and once I got my own space we started collecting donations,” she said.
She posted a request for donations and money on Facebook, school clubs pitched in with fundraisers and food drives, and the community helped. Kroger, Sibcy Cline, Rumpke and Performance Honda supported the high school food pantry, as well as organizations like LoveWorks, Matthew 25 Ministries, the Fairfield Food Pantry and Share Harvest FoodBank.
The program is under the Fairfield High School’s National Honors Society, and the goal is for one of the members to take it over when Dunn leaves for the University of Kentucky in the fall. She plans to major in human nutrition and minor in biology. Her goal is to be a doctor.
Shared Harvest Executive Director Tina Osso said seeing the younger generation taking an active role in addressing hunger within the community is encouraging.
“This is interesting in many factors,” she said. “One is the engagement of her generation in addressing hunger among her peers. What a leader.”
Secondly, she said it fills the gap the backpack program didn’t address when Shared Harvest started it in the 2006-07 school year. The grade schools were focused because of growing brain and cognitive development, and children learn best when they’re not hungry.
“Obviously we would like to see this (school-based pantry) at every school, just like we’d like to see our backpack program,” Osso said. “Having people like Madi step up to the plate, and really rolling her sleeves up, is inspiring.”
Osso said there are a few other pilot programs similar to the pantry at Fairfield, including at Miami University Regional Campuses in Hamilton and Middletown, and at Marshall High School in Middletown.