An Alabama A&M University student recently launched a food pantry for his peers after hearing fellow students complain that they were going to bed hungry — a charity effort he hopes will profoundly “bless” those around him.
Justin Franks, 20, told WHNT-TV he was so moved by students’ needs that he decided to launch the pantry with $40 of his own money, purchasing the basics to initially stock the effort.
“I started with pretty much just noodles and Capri Suns,” Franks told the outlet. “And I had a few household products like tissue and water.”
He expanded upon his reasoning for launching the pantry initiative in a recent interview with ABC News, explaining that the school cafeteria closes early and that “a lot of students here don’t have the money to go outside of campus to eat.”
Franks opens the pantry each day from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. in an effort to offer another option to these students.
But that initial effort has recently been bolstered by outside attention. Once Franks got the pantry up and running, the student — who balances school and his good deeds with managing a fast food restaurant and working as a desk assistance on campus — posted about it on social media.
To his surprise, the reaction was huge, with donations from faculty, former students and others soon coming in.
“It got shared 600-700 times and so it got around the internet,” he said. “I didn’t think it would get shared that much, but people really cared about our students and Alabama A&M University.”
Plus, the story has been picked up by local and national outlets, giving even more attention to Frank’s efforts.
Now, the pantry — which is located inside an old mailroom at the school — is fully stocked with juice, water, drinks, crackers, coolies, granola bars, chips, oatmeal and soup and hygiene products.
Many people are praising Franks, who has described himself as a “religious person” bent on “blessing” those around him. According to WHNT-TV, he’s already served nearly 100 students, allowing each to take up to three items two times per week.
“Some nights, students will be like ‘Man, I really appreciate this because I didn’t have anything to eat,'” he said.
He told ABC News that he has plans to keep the pantry running “for years to come” and is reportedly planning to train others to help run it once he graduates.
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