As a young girl, Carm Smith took note of her parents' generosity, compassion and kindness. Even then, she was inspired by their actions.

She said it wasn't uncommon for her mother to strike up a conversation with a stranger and, eventually, invite them into the home. Food always was at the heart of the Smiths' generosity.

"After my dad passed, there would be the electric man eating at our kitchen table," Smith said. "She ended up befriending a telemarketer who ended up eating with us, too."

Kindness always has been part of Smith's soul.

CornerSmith's store at 1. S. High St., which Smith, 61, and her daughter, Kendra, opened in 2011, sits at the intersection across from Canal Winchester's historic Town Hall and about a half-mile from the Community Food Pantry on West Waterloo Street.

While looking out at the intersection every day, Smith said her mind would race with ideas about how she, like her parents, could help others in the community. Something clicked.

"I would say ad nauseam, 'if you could get people lined up at this intersection, shoulder to shoulder, with $1 or one canned good ... imagine what that would do,' " Smith said.

What she imagined is now a reality in her 40-day 1 For The Cupboard campaign. It began on Ash Wednesday, March 1, and will continue until the day before Easter on April 15.

At 7:30 a.m. every day except Sunday, Smith begins the short walk to the food pantry with $1 or a can of food. However, she doesn't want to make the trip alone. She's inviting others to join her and bring similar donations with them.

She has chronicled some of her daily treks on the CornerSmith's Facebook page, including statements about what she has learned each day:

* "Friends bring warmth and sunshine to stormy days."

* "$14, a bag of groceries and several travel companions make for a rich and rewarding journey."

* "I realized when I had my eyes fixed on my footing, it gave my ear the opportunity to hear my friend's words."

By the fourth day, the project had brought in more than $228 and 23 canned goods for the food pantry, a project of Canal Winchester Human Services.

The pantry serves about 1,100 residents through its Choice Pantry and helps provide meals to students when they're not in school with a Feeding our Future initiative, according to Human Services Administrator Penny Miller.

The monetary donations will go to Human Services' One Square Foot campaign to fund a new warehouse facility on Groveport Road that is expected to open this summer. Currently, the agency is paying monthly rent for space, Miller said.

"Carm is an amazing, kind-hearted and giving woman," Miller said. "With the new building, we will be able to coordinate everything from one place. We're excited 1 For The Cupboard is going to support that."

Smith has never walked alone, and she's been overwhelmed by those who have heard about her mission. Groups of Girls Scouts and 4-H members were expected to join Smith last week.

Donations have even arrived from out of state. She received a $120 check from North Carolina. The campaign has been publicized on Facebook and the CornerSmiths website.

"It's just one step, and I hope one day people won't remember who started it," Smith said. "I don't want this to be about me. I want this to be about the possibilities in a community."

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