Normal, AL. (WHNT) – This week’s Pay it Forward recipient is young and very motivated. Justin Franks is only a college student, but has a lot to teach us about compassion and service.
Franks keeps busy as a full time student at Alabama A&M University, desk assistant at the Foster Complex on campus and fast food restaurant manager.
Even with all of that on his plate, he’s managed to find time to do something else – something that recognizes and responds to the needs of others.
“I noticed that there were some students that said they ware going to bed hungry,” explains Franks. “So, I thought about it and said, ‘What can I give back to my community?'”
On $40 and faith, he started a food pantry.
“I started with pretty much just noodles and Capri Suns and I had a few household products like tissue and water,” says Franks.
Then he posted about it on Facebook.
“It got a lot of response,” describes Franks. “It got shared 600-700 times and so it got around the internet.”
The shares and support was something he hadn’t expected.
“I didn’t think it would get shared that much, but people really cared about our students and Alabama A&M University,” says Franks.
Donations came pouring in from faculty, alumni and different community groups. It got our attention at WHNT NEWS 19 too.
The pantry is packed with items like soup, granola bars, chips, cereal and oatmeal.
“We have Capri Suns, drinks, juices and water,” says Franks as he shows us around. “We have crackers and cookies.”
There are also personal hygiene items and toiletries. But for Franks, it’s more than just things in an old mail room, it’s selflessness and compassion in action.
“To me, it just makes me feel like I’m blessing someone,” explains Franks. “I’m a religious person and I feel like I can bless a student. Some nights, students will be like ‘Man, I really appreciate this because I didn’t have anything to eat.'”
Franks has helped nearly 100 students so far. Students are able to get up to three items twice a week. He’s already training someone else to make sure the pantry can continue long after he’s graduated.