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Coloring 10,000 Smiles

Small acts of kindness add up to a huge impact. Whether it is packing a Sack Supper, planting a seed or decorating a bag, volunteers act every day with compassion and drive to make a difference in our collective community. 

Irene knew about KFB through the way her cousin, Michelle, spoke passionately about her cherished experiences on the Kent County packing floor. When Irene faced a personal loss, Michelle wondered if getting involved with KFB could be the same bright spot for Irene. 

During a visit to her cousin in October 2021, Michelle brought along 50 brown paper bags to decorate for Sack Suppers. Michelle hoped it would be a therapeutic outlet while channeling Irene’s warm heart and passion for spreading positivity. Irene was hesitant at first, as she did not consider herself to be an artist. But Michelle encouraged her to use simple pictures and write sayings and jokes on the bags.  

Drawing inspiration from catalogues, sports, nature and anything she could learn to draw, Irene’s creativity for decorating bags grew. When she finished her first set of bags, Michelle brought her more. This became a pattern; Michelle and Irene traded decorated bags for blank bag bundles, as Irene spent the next year and a half decorating an average of 18 bags a day.  

Before she knew it, she had decorated 10,000 bags! Her motivation was always to spread kindness and bring joy to West Michigan children. 

“If I could just make one person smile, that makes my day,” Irene said. “If a kid takes a look at their bag and smiles because its decorated, that makes it all worthwhile.” 

Because of Irene’s work, 10,000 bags—enough to pack an entire day’s worth of Sack Suppers in four counties at three KFB locations—will spark countless smiles as they are distributed to 60 schools in West Michigan. That is 10,000 Sack Suppers that will contain not only good, nutritious food, but an extra reminder that someone cares. 

We are grateful to Irene for her kindness, dedication and tenacity. Together, we can all make a difference, one small action at a time. To discover how you can make an impact, visit