A Pella Middle School student is finding ways to help those in need with basic necessities through a program she started and continues today.

When she was eight, Maggie Leach lived with her family in a hotel for six weeks as they waited for their new home to be built. While washing clothes with her family at the local laundromat, Maggie tells KNIA/KRLS News she met several homeless families who could not afford to do their laundry more than once a month and sometimes had to make the choice between clean clothes or food.

“When my family decided to build a new home in 2012, we sold our old home about six weeks before we could move into the new one. We lived at an extended stay hotel, and had to wash our clothes at the laundromat. We met many families who worked full time and lived in their cars, and who could only afford to wash their clothing once a month. Some families could only wash some of their clothing, because they had to choose between clean clothes or food,” she says.

Maggie launched Operation Share the Load as a Make A Difference Day project in 2012, collecting rolls of quarters and laundry supplies to be donated to families in need. On Make A Difference Day 2016, Maggie collected and donated $810 in quarters and 21 baskets of laundry supplies to families served by Lewis House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Minnesota, and she’s hoping to make a similar impact in Marion County.

“I am working with a program in Iowa to donate my laundry supplies and quarter collections to on Make A Difference Day. I plan to have my new school help me collect laundry supplies, and my annual Go Fund Me page is up and running. My mom and I have also contacted the Tide Loads of Hope program to see if we can do a separate donation to help families impacted by all of the recent hurricanes,” she says.

In recognition of her efforts on Make A Difference Day in 2016, Maggie was awarded a $10,000 grant that she donated to 360 Communities to do more good for the nearly 18,000 individuals served by the nonprofit’s community programs. This year, she’s hoping to raise money and collect supplies by making a donation to IMPACT! in Marion County.

Click here to donate to Operation Share the Load’s 2017 campaign.