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Ridgely Middle School administrators help 'bag hunger'

Shortly after school let out on Wednesday, Sept. 21, three administrators from Ridgely Middle School abandoned their desk chairs, trading their offices for grocery store checkout aisles at the new Timonium ShopRite.

Principal Susan Evans, Assistant Principal Laurie Phillips and Administrative Facilitator Lisa Frey participated in ShopRite's "Help Bag Hunger" event, bagging groceries for the late-afternoon customers while cashiers accepted monetary donations to aid community food banks.

"We didn't know about the cause (before they asked us)," Phillips said, "but any opportunity to give back and be a part of the community is great. I just wish more people would let us know when they need us," she said.

A typical day for Phillips includes everything from bus duty and schedule-making to meeting with parents and conferencing with teachers. But the assistant principal didn't mind a little break from her normal after-school responsibilities.

"We'd still be working right now otherwise," she said. "Besides, this is what it's all about."

While they share a background as educators, each seemed to have vastly different pasts when it comes to grocery shopping.

"My husband does most of the shopping," Evans said. "But I'm pretty good at taking things out of the bag."

Phillips brought some of her classroom methods to her temporary job.

"I'm a former math teacher, so I like to organize and make things fit," she said.

Frey didn't mind the work. She pulled double duty between a pair of lines, smiling the entire time.

"It's fun," she said. "I was excited when I heard about this. When I go to the store, I'm the bagger anyway."

As they were bagging, the Ridgely administrators saw several familiar faces, though the accumulation of their years of experience made it hard in some cases to put names with them.

ShopRite assistant manager Meghan Sayre, who came to the newly opened store from Stroudsburg, Pa., said seeing familiar faces is all part of being a family-first store.

"We're in it for the community," Sayre said. "We're not just here as a business, we're a family."

At her old store, Sayre said ShopRite had at least one fundraiser each month for the supermarket chain's hunger-fighting charity, Partners in Caring.

The events ranged from hot dog and lemonade stands to cashiers pumping gas at local gas stations, and they also frequently had local officials come in to "bag hunger."

Earlier in the day Wednesday, Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Peter Fosselman and state Secretary of Human Resources Ted Dallas helped kick off the Timonium location's grocery-bagging promotion.

"This is the first time we've done this event here, but it's an ongoing event throughout the company," Sayre said. "We're still working toward getting that community involvement.

In the students and faculty at Ridgely Middle School, Sayre may have a more-than-willing match.

"There's a lot of community service that our students do," Evans said. "We're just here modeling for them. If they had asked, we would have gotten students to come here, too."

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