Inspired by the Little Free Library cabinets that offer free books to anyone in the neighbourhood, Jamie Hendricks created her own little cabinet that she filled with food to help out her neighbours. The North End Free Pantry contains some necessities that those going through rough financial times may have trouble buying. The act may seem small, but Hendricks is making a big difference in her community.
Hendricks has lived in this neighbourhood for more than 20 years, and she finds it difficult to see how the hard times affect families around her. Working as an elementary school teacher, Hendricks said she was made aware of some parents who struggled to put food on the table every day. She really wanted to help her neighbours, so she created a little cabinet on her front yard.
Using the idea from Little Free Libraries, Hendricks put up a cabinet on her lawn filled with food and other necessities that anyone is free to take. The cabinet is filled with things like boxes of macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, and laundry detergent. There is only one rule: take what you need and leave some for others who need the pantry as well. Neighbours who get by paycheque-to-paycheque say that the pantry has been a life saver. Furthermore, the anonymity aspect of the service is important for some neighbours who don’t want to admit that they are in need of assistance. They can just take what they need and go without any gossip going around.
The North End Free Pantry has also brought together the community in the spirit of helping each other out. The project was so successful that Hendricks soon realized she needed a bigger cabinet, so neighbours kindly made her a seven-foot-tall one. A Facebook page was started to collect donations from people around, and everything that doesn’t fit in the cabinet at the moment gets stored at Hendricks’ house. Even those who need the pantry have been inspired to help out, so they rarely take more than what they need and sometimes leave whatever they have extra of in there as well.
Without being asked, Hendricks and her neighbours made the effort to start a project to help out people in their area. The cabinet of food and necessities isn’t a huge program, but it has certainly made (and is continuing to make) a difference in the lives of neighbours who need a little help for now. With these continuous kind acts, residents of the North End area have created a cycle of inspiration and charitable work that bring a little light to the neighbourhood.