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St. Thomas Episcopal Church opens its Little Free Pantry

BATH — “Give what you can, take what you need.” The words are affixed to the window of a small cabinet just across Craven Street from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Bath. They are the motto of a national movement, Little Free Pantry, a grassroots effort to reduce food insecurity on a local level.

Erected this week, St. Thomas’ Little Free Pantry is on its way to being stocked with food and personal care items. With the pantry comes an invitation from St. Thomas’ outreach committee to not only those in need, but to those with plenty to help provide for their neighbors.

“We realize everyone needs a little help once in a while with food or personal care items. St. Thomas Church does not want anyone to go without. Please take what you need and if you can give, the items listed below will help feed your neighbors,” the sign on the pantry reads.

For Jack Pyland, the church’s junior warden, and the outreach committee behind the idea, the project puts prayer into practice.

“We have a prayer that says, ‘Let us be ever mindful of the needs of others’ … but that doesn’t go far enough,” said Jack Pyland, St. Thomas’ junior warden. “It’s putting our money where our mouth is.”

Constructed from wood Pyland found around his farm and modeled on the Little Free Pantry established at Rachel K’s Bakery in Washington, the Little Free Pantry is the latest way the committee is reaching out to help others. The project is an experiment, of sorts, according to Pyland.

“You try and see if it works. … You don’t always have guaranteed success, so you try things to see if it works. We think maybe this will,” Pyland said. “At the end of the day, if we only get a couple of people who need it and use it, we’re going to consider it a success.”

Items requested from those donating include: canned fruit, soup and vegetables; ready-to-eat meals; peanut butter; nuts, trail mix and granola; canned tuna fish and chicken; and personal care items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, tissue and toilet paper.

The Little Free Pantry is located on the north side of Craven Street, at the corner of Harding Street, and is open at all times.

To learn more about the Little Free Pantry movement, visit www.littlefreepantry.org.