By Ukee Washington


MOORESTOWN, N.J. (CBS) – This story started with a little girl and a picture she drew more than a decade ago. That drawing inspired a car magnet asking people to “live civilly.” Now that girl is a teenager, and she and her sisters are living up to that saying!

We first met the Buss sisters in 2011, going to neighborhood shops in Moorestown, dropping off car magnets they were selling to raise money for charity. The design had two words, Live Civilly, and two little stick-figure men, drawn by Grace when she was about 2.

“I never knew how to draw people, so I’d draw two little men holding hands because they represented this idea of great friendship,” said Grace, who is now 15.

Well, the little men and Live Civilly became much more than a bumper slogan to the Buss sisters. They brought together youth to host food drives, to help with community gardens, and to raise charity funds with basketball tournaments.

Their biggest project – the Live Civilly food pantry, which fills up a room in the basement of the St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Moorestown.

“So we have canned vegetables, we have cereals and oatmeal, so pretty much any meal that you can think of, any non-perishable meal can be found here,” Grace said.

Grace and her sister, 13-year-old Abby, get help from friends and volunteers like 14-year-old Lucas Megill, who help organize the donations.

“We’re fortunate not to have to come here for food,” Lucas said. “We’re basically provided with food every day.”

They estimate they’ve given away 145,000 meals through the pantry.

Abby said, “It feels like pretty great, because you can see just how many people actually need help and how many people you’re actually helping.”

And a childhood drawing started it all.

“It holds a deep meaning for me,” Grace said. “It’s helping other people find a purpose bigger than yourself.”

“Living civilly means just helping each other and being nice to each other,” Abby said. “I hope that it catches on.”

For more information on Live Civilly, visit http://www.livecivilly.org/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/livecivilly.

Ukee Washington