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Zoe Granger

Before she was even a teenager, Zoe Granger, currently a senior at Seaholm High School, turned her creativity and compassion into a way to help others. When she and her family lived in Sacramento, California, she had a moment that would spark an idea. “My mom has always been very involved in charity; that’s how I got into it in the first place,” said Granger. “We were driving around and I saw a homeless man and I wanted to give him money.”

Her mom, Jennifer, told her the money would be used very quickly, so it would be better to provide them with something that would help for a longer period of time. “Somehow my 11-year-old brain came up with this concept to give the homeless socks, water, granola bars, a toothbrush and toothpaste,” said Granger. “We created these kits and we would keep them in the car. I drew a little drawing of it in my notebook and that’s how it came to be.”

Since that time, they’ve made thousands of kits, said Granger, who recently received the Shining Star Award from the Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan (GSSEM), who also helped with the kits.

“That was a cool experience,” said Granger. “This was something I made when I was so little. Obviously, I didn’t start it to get recognition; I just wanted to help people out.” She even received a proclamation from Congresswoman Haley Stevens for her “Caring Kids Kits.”

Granger has experienced many special moments along the way, including reactions from some of the recipients. “I think one that stood out the most to me was this man who told me how much the kit mattered to him,” she said. “Some people won’t make eye contact with him and this made him feel like he was not invisible.”

Though the kits keep her busy, Granger also plays volleyball and she is an active member of student government at school, which involves community projects as well.

Granger plans to attend college next fall, where she wants to major in sports management. Her father, Chris, who is currently the CEO of OVG360, was previously group president, Sports and Entertainment, for Ilitch Holdings. Before that, he was president of the Sacramento Kings when they lived in California. Granger credits her parents for all the inspiration they provide. “My dad inspired me for my major, but both my parents inspired me because I want to be on the community impact side of sports and that came from my mom,” she said.

Family and friends also help assemble and distribute the kits that are already making an impact in Michigan. “We partnered with other organizations, like the Empowerment Project to put in their coats, and the Ann Arbor Police Department contacted us to partner with them to get the kits to homeless shelters,” said Granger.

The fact that her original idea and continued efforts spread to the Girl Scouts showed Granger what girl power can do.

“I’m really excited that something I started when I was that age can help the next generation going to college. It’s being expanded to help a wide array of people,” she said.

“Even if you’re little and you have this idea, if you really put work into it, you can do anything. This proves that.”

Story: Jeanine Matlow

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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