Food City hosts Celebrity Bagging event as part of United Way fundraiser

As customers flock to grocery stores to get ready for the food-filled holiday, customers at Food City were greeted by volunteers from across the region, all in the name of serving other people however they could.

Volunteers from several different organizations came to Food City in Elizabethton to participate in United Way’s Annual Celebrity Bagging Event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. For shoppers that morning, students from East Side Elementary’s K-Kids program greeted customers at check-out lines and helped bag items.

Fifth-grade math teacher Christy Malone said the event helps the students grow as citizens.

“This will help them grow into independent adults who take pride in their community,” Malone said. “Especially the service-oriented part.”

This is the 13th year United Way has put on the event, acting as one of their chief fundraisers throughout the year.

“All of the money goes to United Way,” second-grade teacher April Richmond said.

It was not just East Side participating, however. Local organizations who made an appearance throughout the day included Red Legacy Recovery and Carter County Drug Prevention, and that was just at the Elizabethton location. More than a dozen Food City locations participated in the Celebrity Bagging, including stores in Chattanooga and as far out as Virginia.

Richmond said the work provides valuable experience for the students they would not get in the classroom.

“It is good for the kids to be out in the community,” she said.

The fundraiser part of the day came from donations at check-out lines. Customers could either put money into boxes at the register or add the donation to their grocery total.

“We enjoy seeing [the students] take responsibility, step out of their comfort zones,” Malone said. “They are engaging with their elders.”

United Way, in turn, said it uses its funds to work towards human service needs in its community, so the charity the students helped promote will propagate into the rest of the community, as well.

“It is important to learn how to be a good citizen,” Richmond said.

Malone said the experience will be just as important to her students as anything they read from a textbook.

“We are building the students to become responsible and respectful individuals who enjoy taking part in serving their community,” she said. “They will be establishing relationships.”

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