St. Andrews non-food pantry now serving 150 families weekly

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Curves Fitness Club recently collected non-food items for the non-food pantry located at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. The pantry provides free paper goods, detergents, toiletries and other things that food stamps do not cover.

GREENCASTLE -- It was a cold snowy day back in March when St. Andrew's Episcopal Church opened the doors to the non-food pantry. That month they served 82 families.

In July they served over 150 families, providing them with paper goods, detergents, toiletries and other items that food stamps will not cover.

Support for the project has come from other area churches, businesses and individuals as well as from the St. Andrew's congregation. The Putnam County Foundation provided start-up money for the group.

"These are people just like you or me and they are losing their jobs and homes. It is very important that we think of those who are forgotten and might fall through the cracks," said Mary Pifer Mountz, organizer of the pantry.

A basic bag includes paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid. Patrons choose two additional items from an assortment of shampoos, soap, toothpaste and brushes, household cleaning products and other items.

In July, the pantry was able to offer three school supply gifts per family from a special large donation.

"Some of the mothers cried when they came in. They didn't know how they were going to get school supplies," said Mountz.

Families use black cloth bags decorated by the church's children, when they return for a monthly refill. The bags were donated by Wal-Mart.

Patrons come to the church located on the corner of Bloomington and Seminary Streets, on the last Saturday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m.

People register by showing a food stamp card and an ID such as a driver's license. They are assigned a number so they can pick up their bags on a first-come, first-served basis.

While they wait, church members in the parish hall offer their turn, drinks and snacks.

"This is a great improvement over the first month when people had to stand in line," said Mountz. "The pre-packed bags are ready, but choosing the additional items sometimes takes a little time."

Children from the St. Andrew's congregation have been a big help. They pack the reusable black bags or paper grocery bags on the Wednesday before the Saturday distribution.

They arrange and re-supply the choice table with donated stock and help carry bags for some of the patrons.

"With limited operating space in the parish's Advent House, it helps to have little people darting from room to room," laughed Mountz.

The congregation plans to continue and hopes to expand the project by involving local college students and more community groups in both the fundraising efforts and the physical work of carrying heavy boxes and bags.

Special thanks go to Kroger Manager Travis Beck for providing great buys and ordering large quantities of items for the pantry.

Customers at Curves Fitness Center also just had a large drive to collect items for the non-pantry. Narda Colton was in charge of this drive.

"More and more items are necessary as people's needs grow," explained Mountz. "There are so many people who need help."

Volunteers should call the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church office weekdays at 653-3921 and leave a message with the church staff. Donations can be dropped off at the church.

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  • Thank you BG for calling attention to this vital service to the community. Great story and wonderful job St Andrew's!!!!

    -- Posted by citizenoftheworld on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 3:41 PM
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