On Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., the non-food pantry, an outreach ministry of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, will once again be distributing paper products, soap, detergent, dishwashing liquid, and other items to local residents. The only requirement to receive products is a food stamp card and a picture ID. The church expects more than 130 families this Saturday.
Distribution, originally on Sundays, has been moved to the last Saturday of the month, and takes place at the church, located at the corner of Seminary and Bloomington Streets in Greencastle.
"The need in the community is even greater than we anticipated," said Mary Mountz, a St. Andrew's member who spearheads the program. "Last month 130 people, many with children in tow, came to receive products."
Although the distribution was scheduled for 12:30 p.m., people began lining up as early as 10:30 a.m.
"Once the 10:15 a.m. Sunday service ended around 11:20 a.m., there was gridlock in the parking lot as parishioners were leaving and recipients were arriving," Mountz said.
After discussion and prayer, the St. Andrew's Vestry (church governing council) decided to move the distribution to the last Saturday of the month. The church is preparing for as many as 200 recipients this Saturday.
Food stamps cannot be used to purchase non-edible items, and, especially with the current economic situation, many families receiving food stamp assistance cannot afford to buy paper products, cleaning supplies, and other essential items.
The Rev. William Wieland, St. Andrew's rector, said, "For some people it comes down to a question of buying gas to get to work or laundry soap. This is an important ministry which is energizing our congregation."
Members and friends of the church have been contributing time, products, and money; children in the church are active in assembling bags of goods and handing them out.
Over the course of the month, St. Andrew's collects donations of products and money (used to purchase additional products), and recently received a $1,000 grant from the Putnam County Foundation. Volunteers, including children, get together to assemble bags of goods. On distribution days, church members greet recipients, offer refreshments, check IDs, and hand out bags of products.
Anyone who would like to contribute money or goods, or volunteer time, to the Non-Food Pantry should call the church office at 653-3921 for more information.