Small act of kindness grows into state-wide effort in face of government shutdown

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HARRISVILLE, Utah -- Since Tuesday, Kristen Smith and Kaitlyn Ford have made several trips to the top of an old pear tree in Smith’s yard, which has taught them quite a bit about just how far a good deed can grow.

“This whole thing was an accident,” Smith said. “I had no idea it was going to be anything like this.”

When the sisters learned the government shutdown would stop funding for Women Infants and Children (WIC), they started helping right from their kitchen.

“I just made a quick little post on Facebook saying, ‘Hey, if there are any moms that can’t fill their WIC that need fresh fruit, I have pears that I’m willing to drop off to anyone who needs them,’” Smith said.

Within minutes, they had heard from people from all over the state.

“I’m shocked. I’m just absolutely flabbergasted,” Ford said.

The replies came from those not only asking for assistance, but from Utahns wanting to provide it. Companies, like Associated Foods, have promised a truck load of donations.

“There were hundreds of people offering things like baby formula, fruits and vegetables, clothes, blankets, hats, scarves,” Smith said. “It’s just ballooning out.”

The basic necessities can go far for mothers, like Smith, who used to rely on WIC to get by.

“I no longer am on WIC, but if I were still on it, just imagining, my son is 3,” she said. “He doesn’t need formula anymore, but if he did, and I had the rug pulled out from underneath me, I’d be devastated.”

With the help of hundreds, they’re hoping to fill the need left by the shutdown with an effort that began in their backyard and has grown bigger than they ever could have imagined.

"It can be whatever you’ve got because everyone’s got something they don`t need that somebody else can use,” Ford said.

Due to the response, the sisters are holding an event at Layton Commons Park on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. They will be accepting donations, as well as offering assistance to anyone who needs it. For more information, visit the Facebook page the sisters have set up.