Sorting out the packs

Ending Hunger Alliance of Marquette conducts holiday giving project

Breah Carter of Ending Hunger Alliance of Marquette sorts food that will be put into packs for families in need at Cherry Creek School in Chocolay Township and K.I. Sawyer School. Items were donated from a variety of sources. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

HARVEY — The gymnasium at Cherry Creek Elementary School on Tuesday was full of tables containing canned foods, cleaning products and paper towels.

It was just about as good a place as any to collect and put together packs for needy families of students at Cherry Creek, as well as K.I. Sawyer Elementary School.

The project was a project of the Ending Hunger Alliance of Marquette, spearheaded by Theresa Sell who helped start the group she self-funds — so no fundraising needs to be done — about a year ago.

Tuesday was “sort day.”

There was a lot of sorting to do.

“There’s about $10,000 worth of food here,” Sell said of the piles of food and household items filling the tables.

The alliance’s order with Econo Foods was $7,000, with another $3,000 coming from Cherry Creek Elementary School donations, said Sell, who noted about 35 families from that school were to receive packs.

However, the group received a call from teachers at Sawyer Elementary School who mentioned 20 families there needed packs. So, items will go toward Sawyer as well.

About 30 volunteers, including those from Select Realty, lent a hand Tuesday in assembling the packs. In fact, Select Realty brought in their own donations.

Even kids were to be involved. Cherry Creek fourth-graders helped with the sorting Tuesday, while fifth-graders were to assemble the packs Wednesday, Sell said.

There was a method to the assembly process.

Sell said a child was to be paired with an adult, with each duo to receive a grocery list with numbers. They then were to grab a garbage bag and attach a numbered label on that bag, with the two going from table to table “shopping” from that list.

Once a bag was full, it was to be set via number at the drop zone. When families were to come in, they would take everything by their particular number.

“It’s pretty organized,” Sell said. “It only took us two hours to do this. We had so many volunteers come to sort and count. We count every single item.”

That was a task in itself, with Sell pointing out there were 6,000 snacks.

However, more than snacks that filled the gym. There were non-perishable items like cereal, boxed rice dishes, bread, soup and canned tuna, but also toilet paper, paper towels, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, cleanser and dryer sheets.

“You don’t think about stuff like that,” said Andi Goriesky, an owner/realtor with Select Realty.

Maybe they should, considering that not only do folks get hungry, they need to brush their teeth and clean their countertops as well.

“I think that’s a great thing she’s doing,” Goriesky said of Sell and EHAM.

Kalli Payment, who performs marketing work for Select, also was on hand Tuesday.

She said Select employees were given some guidance on what to donate, like noodles, potatoes, nuts and granola bars as well as paper and body wash.

“It’s definitely a nice feeling to be able to help people who are in need, and that’s what our community fund does,” Payment said. “We definitely try to take advantage of anything that we hear about, or just any cause or organization that we know needs assistance.”

Cherry Creek Principal Travis Smith was pleased about the effort that benefited his school.

“The generosity from the students and their famlies and the community really speaks to that idea of Cherry Creek Elementary School being a part of the greater Marquette-Harvey community, and it’s really gratifying to see our students and families and businesses giving to those in need,” Smith said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is