A Century Middle School student is being recognized by a national group for her efforts to bring simple comforts such as clean clothes to those in need.
Operation Share the Load started when the family sold one house in Cottage Grove and lived in an extended stay hotel before they could move into their new home in Lakeville, said Maggie’s mother, Paula Leach. Maggie noticed some families would stay at the hotel for a while, but when money ran out, they often had to live in their cars or stay with friends or relatives.
“All of the laundry facilities around there are pay-only,” Paula said. “We used a laundromat in Burnsville and we met a lot of families who could only afford to wash their clothes once a month.”
Seeing people pull up to the laundromat with a van load of family members and laundry, but only be able to wash half of it because of the cost, made an impression on Maggie. It affected her even more when she found out they had to choose between having clean clothes and food to eat.
“She said, ‘Mom, we have to do something about that,’” Paula said.
When the family moved into their home, among the first appliances delivered were a new washer and dryer. Maggie again told her mom she wanted to help. So a few weeks later with Make a Difference Day quickly approaching, Paula asked Maggie if she wanted to surprise people with free laundry.
Through a GoFundMe account, Maggie raised $180 the first year and put together quarters and laundry supplies at the laundromat and hotel. The second year, they approached 360 Communities to see how they might be able to help and was able to raise $800 in quarters and laundry supplies to help domestic abuse survivors as they start their lives over.
A few weeks ago, the Make a Difference Day organizers contacted the family to say she had been chosen as one of their winners, Paula said.
“She’s a very selfless person,” Paula said, adding she thinks the award means a lot to Maggie – especially the $10,000 grant Make A Difference Day’s organizers presented to 360 Communities.
Maggie said she is happy when she helps others and wants to continue the project.
“We’re all very proud of her,” said Chris Endicott, principal at Century Middle School, where students and staff have supported Maggie’s efforts. “We’ve tried to facilitate her ideas.”
Century is “filled with students who do great things. Some get notoriety and some go unnoticed,” Endicott said. He said he thinks Maggie’s efforts do inspire others.
View the video story online at http://www.makeadifferenceday.com/awards/2016-award-winners/ by scrolling down the page to Share the Load.