Ashland High Students Make It Easy and Convenient to Donate to Food Pantry

Cynthia Whitty
Armen Bazarian and Kaitlin Laughlin are running A Simple Gesture: Ashland to support the food pantry. (Photo/supplied)
Issue Date: 
March, 2019
Article Body: 

Two Ashland High School (AHS) students are doing something about feeding those in need. Juniors Armen Bazarian and Kaitlin Laughlin started A Simple Gesture: Ashland last fall to get the community involved in providing a steady supply of food to the Ashland Food Pantry.
“This project started as a conversation back in September with a family friend who was initiating it in her town, Marshfield, Mass.,” Bazarian said in an email. “It sounded like such a great concept that would be fairly simple once established. So after talking it over with my mom and doing some online research to see how other towns got their organization up and running, I put my plan in motion and created my own website. I then asked a classmate/good friend of mine, Kaitlin Laughlin, to join me in running the organization. We’ve been working together ever since.”
How It Works
“A Simple Gesture is designed to provide a steady stream of food to the Ashland food pantry by making donating easier for people,” Bazarian explained. “I think everybody has busy lives, and although people mean well, it’s not always easy to bring donations to the food pantry. I know there are some drop off locations, but even still, A Simple Gesture will simplify the whole process for those who want to donate food.”
A resident signs up to be a “food donor” through the website,
“A food donor will be delivered a recyclable grocery bag and asked to fill it with food donations over a six- to eight-week period,” Bazarian explained. “On designated Saturday pick-up days, volunteers will drive around town and pick up the filled food donation bags and leave a new empty bag for the next designated Saturday pick up. The food will then be delivered to an area where volunteers will sort the items that will eventually be brought to the food pantry.”
“Not only is it going to be great for the food pantry, it’s also a chance for people to be a part of the community and get involved. Families can volunteer together as drivers or sorters.”
Ashland Responds
“After creating our website and Facebook page, Kaitlin and I ordered the recyclable bags for the food donations,” Bazarian said. “We started to advertise our website and organization through social media the very beginning of January. Within two days we had 26 household sign up to be a food donor. We delivered our first set of recyclable bags to those 26 households on January 19. Our first scheduled pick up is March 23. We anticipate that our food donors will double by our second pick up, which will be the beginning of May.
“Kaitlin and I are both juniors at Ashland High School and members of the National Honor Society. I am currently on the varsity wrestling team and I run track in the spring. I am also a member of the Make A Wish club. In my free time, I work at Fitzy’s car wash and volunteer at Rosie’s place in Boston. Kaitlin is also in the Make A Wish club and she plays field hockey and lacrosse.
“I can’t really pinpoint one thing that motivated me, but I love to get involved and do things for others. My mom has always taught me to give back and that simple acts of kindness go a long way. I have seen how volunteering just a little bit of time can make all the difference to someone in need, so I thought this was a chance to help out those in my home town who may be struggling.”