Grand Ledge woman turns shopping mistake into giving campaign

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Food items stacked in Larene Spitzley's ktichen counter.

Larene Spitzley

Grand Ledge resident Larene Spitzley collects donations to help provide families with holiday meals. The effort started as a shopping mistake, after Spitzley’s family bought more food than they needed.

What started off as a silly accident last year before Thanksgiving, has turned into a tradition of giving back for a Grand Ledge woman.

Larene Spitzley went grocery shopping for her family of four last year when she saw how cheap turkeys were. She decided to buy two along with a 10-pound bag of potatoes. When she returned home, Spitzley was greeted by her son, who had also bought a 10-pound bag of potatoes. 

In the spur of the moment, she posted on her personal Facebook page asking if anyone needed help with Thanksgiving since she had an extra turkey and potatoes. Spitzley received several messages, including some from people asking if she took donations. 

With help from those donations, Spitzley gave out meals to eight families.

“I’m a giver,” said Spitzley, although she said she had never done anything quite like it before. “I pay for people in line behind me. I pay for peoples gas. I do that in a restaurant. That’s just a regular thing, but something like this, I’ve just never done before.”

After the success last year, Spitzley continued her Thanksgiving meal donations for this year., and also helps out for Christmas. 

“Once I had done that, I had one of my girl friends ask me, she’s like, ‘Well, what would you think about doing this for Christmas?’ like helping people at Christmas too, and I was like, well, why not?” Spitzley said.

When she started looking for organizations in Grand Ledge she could help, Spitzley said she stumbled across Ken Clark’s Coat Closet, which provides free clothing, personal items and other various household items to people in the community. Spitzley said she and volunteers helped 10 families last year, totalling 51 people, of which 31 were children. 

Work friend Tammy Thelen volunteered to help Spitzley on her Thanksgiving and Christmas meals project. 

“It was so exciting and so rewarding to know that we were helping these families, especially the children,” Thelen said. 

Along with food, Spitzley and her volunteers gathered gifts for children. She said she had a list of what type of gift each kid wanted and the Thelen went to Meijer and spent a couple hours loading up shopping carts. 

The effort provided three to five gifts to each of the 31 children and each family received a $50 gift card.

Due to the number of donations Spitzley received to her Venmo and Paypal, she donated $1,000 to Ken Clark’s Coat Closet.

“None of this would be possible without the extreme generosity and kindness of others willing to donate their time and money to help,” she said.

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