2020 has been a challenging year. It’s seen people lose jobs, be furloughed, or be confined to their homes, meaning many people’s access to food may well have been compromised. When we go to bed each night with full stomachs and warm homes, we may not realise that some people we associate with daily may be hungry because they gave what they had to feed their children, or their children may be hungry too.
I was feeding my baby one night at the beginning of autumn’s half-term holiday, and when scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a post from a childhood friend who had started a community pantry box outside her house, full of kitchen cupboard basic foods from which anyone suffering from the loss of school meals during half-term could take what they needed to feed their families.
I often feel I can’t do much for others. I want to give. It’s not easy to find ways to volunteer in the community when you have young children to care for, but that Facebook post got my brain working. I could manage this small thing, couldn’t I? All it needed was a small box. I could manage that.
I searched my cupboard for the largest ‘small’ plastic box that I could find, and then I went through my small store cupboard, filling the box with tinned fruit, vegetables, rice, beans, pasta, sauces, and noodles.
When I ventured out the next morning for a day with my children, I posted a picture of the box on the village Facebook page, hoping it might be useful to someone. Nothing could have prepared me for what I found on my return.
My small box was joined by larger boxes and bags full to bursting with food. I was overwhelmed. Like the widow’s mite (See Mark 12:41-44), my small effort was joined tenfold, by the contributions of others, who have made this endeavour a real success.
It was only meant to last for half term but, at the end of the holiday, I saw a request on Facebook from another mother, saying only the word ‘pantry’, our discreet code word that told me that they had been using, and needed, the box. I knew then that it couldn’t stop now, not with another lockdown on the horizon.
Now, more than ever, we need to support each other. We now have two boxes and are starting a store of warm clothes and blankets. The children in the village school have even drawn posters for the pantry, calling everyone in sight to do a little something for their community by donating!
The donations haven’t stopped, and people have been regularly using the boxes both to give and to take. It’s warmed my heart to see our small village pull together with such love and support. The year 2020 has dealt a rough hand, but without all the hardships of this year, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pull together in glorious efforts of kindness and generosity, as I have witnessed with our humble village pantry. What I’ve learned, beyond all doubt, is that if anyone can help someone, then everyone will be ok.
“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; …
“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that, ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask … O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another” (Mosiah 4:16, 21).