WILMINGTON — Some little white boxes are making an impact on the community in more ways than one.
The United Methodist Church in Wilmington placed two public cabinets — called “God’s Pantry” — as a way for locals — especially those who are homeless or struggling — to get a quick bite to eat or to get something else needed.
Rev. Scott Miller and Tari Mabry, chair of the church’s mission outreach program, told the News Journal the pantry came about at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had talked about it prior to COVID breaking out, that this is something eventually we wanted to do,” said Mabry. “But eventually became ‘right then’ because of COVID, because of this situation and everything.”
Miller realized the necessity of having a self-accessible pantry in the middle of COVID.
“We hadn’t seen many pantries … the uniqueness of our church is our front entryway is an alley. The alley is almost the biggest thoroughfare for people … especially for some of our homeless,” said Miller.
The pantry is set up to accept donations from the public including quick snack foods and easily-opened/non-perishable food.
“It’s those quick snack things for people that just need something to eat or put a little lunch together,” said Mabry. “We also try to put things out that, if it’s the day before payday and you don’t have food in your kitchen, you can put a little meal together. We try to put nutritional stuff out there as well.”
They also accept donations of hygiene items, pet food, and baby products (diapers and wipes).
With the cold months here, the church is looking to receive donations of hats, gloves, hand warmers, socks, and any other warm clothing.
Miller indicated they’ve basically formed their own regular community and are almost self-regulated.
“It has kind of created its own government. There are some who come and pick up trash that was left by someone else. If someone is taking too much, they’ll say something,” said Miller.
Not only do they have regulars who pick up something from the pantries, but also people who routinely come by and drop off items.
“A couple of times we’ve found it overloaded … which is a good thing,” said Miller, saying he’d seen people pull up in vans to donate items.
The church is hoping to install an outdoor refrigerator for donations.
To them, the pantry isn’t just a place for people to get help; it is a way to show what they and the community are about.
“The only reason why we’re doing this is love,” said Miller.
Donations can be made at any time. For more information, contact the United Methodist Church at 937-382-1465.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574