Little Free Pantries serve those who are experiencing difficult times
Posted By Pamela Claytor | October 6, 2016 6:43 am
Last Updated: October 6, 2016 at 6:44 am
Many people will experience moments of financial hardship in their lifetimes. Some might be very temporary-caused by an unexpected and expensive car repair. Others might last longer, perhaps due to an injury, build up of medical bills due to the illness of a spouse or child, or loss of employment.
In those moments of struggle, having a little bit of relief by way of receiving some essential necessities-such as food or personal care items-could be a big help for a family.
This was the idea behind the placing of Little Free Pantries in White County, according to Jennifer Robinson, who has begun coordinating efforts between volunteers to have pantries placed in as many communities as possible, in White County, so that those who are struggling will have a convenient place where they can anonymously pick up much-needed essentials without feeling judgment or pressure.
Robinson says the idea came to her after she read a news story online about a woman, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who had been inspired by Little Free Libraries to create Little Free Pantries to help her community.
Robinson thought this was something she could help implement here in White County and began posting about it on Facebook, asking for input from friends and family.
While she did receive a few opinions that the system might be abused, overall, Robinson says the feedback was positive. She began a Facebook page to begin gathering volunteers and ideas and started to put a plan into action.
The first Little Free Pantry, built by Daniel Spinner, has already been placed outside of Zile Subdivision, on Highway 84.
A group of volunteers has been assisting in collecting donations and stocking the current pantry.
All of this happened within the span of one month, and there are already plans in the works for more pantries.
There have been a couple challenges, however, in moving forward with additional boxes: the cost of materials and a lack of easily accessible locations to place the boxes.
The materials, which include plywood, 4×4 posts, Plexiglas, screws, knobs, latches and hinges can cost nearly $100 per box. Robinson hopes to obtain donations of building supplies or carpentry services to construct the boxes. She also hopes that businesses will jump on board and place boxes on their property.
She is also seeking donations to keep the boxes stocked. Along with nonperishable food items, she hopes to also be able to place personal care items, such as toilet paper and even diapers.
Robinson says too many people have to ask, “Can I get my medications or buy some toilet paper?”
“Public assistance only goes so far,” she explains, and does not cover personal care items.
Robinson clarifies that while she may have proposed the idea, this is an open project. There are no rules, only suggestions. Robinson just asks that if someone places a pantry, to let her know so it can be added to a list of locations she is keeping on the Facebook page and to be easily distributed to those in need.
The main goal is simply to have as many pantries in as many communities across the counties as possible.
To get involved in any way, whether to volunteer, donate or assist, contact Robinson through the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TFPNofWhiteCoTN.