Over the past few months Shepherd of the Valley has been trying to reach out to and support those in our neighborhood. As the pandemic took hold, one way this outreach took shape was through putting out free snack bags for anyone to take, no strings attached. We have been collecting different breakfast and snack items that we put together into bags and set out for those who need them to pick up. Through the ideas of a few different people we created a ministry to help those in need right around us. Some take a whole bag, some take only what they need/like, and some bring a donation and take a bag. Sometimes it is children riding their bike to be out for an adventure, or grandparents getting something for their grandkids, and I am sure everything in between. Since the start of this ministry in April we have distributed over 500 snack bags.
From the beginning of the pandemic we had many people from our congregation making cloth face masks to be distributed to those from church who may have needed them, as well as to Interfaith Sanctuary, Corpus Christi, Community Council of Idaho for Idaho Farm Workers, and we even sent some to our mission partner Christo Rey Lutheran Church in El Paso. Then when Boise City, and then Ada county had mask mandates in July we wanted to make the masks more available to more people so some of our Masketeers put together a box to be outside near the snack bags with masks in individual baggies for people to take if they needed. The mask box is restocked on Mondays and Thursdays and includes adult and some child sized masks. The Masketeers have made over 840 masks!
Over the past week or so, as many vegetables have been ripening in peoples gardens, we have had some fresh vegetables appearing at SOV and we now have a box for free fresh vegetables. If you have a garden and are getting extra produce that you would usually bring to church to share, you still can! There is a box now alongside the snack bag bins for fresh produce.
Earlier this week we had some school/craft supplies donated along with items for the snack bags. As I thought about how to put them outside for people to be able to take I remembered I had some cinch sack bags and other school supplies from our Quilters school supply project last fall that were items that didn’t quite fit with what they send so they had given them to me to use or donate. I put together about 7 little sets of school/craft supplies and set out another little basket next to all the others.
In the past month or so we have had a group of people who have come together to work on a more sustainable way for us to be supporting those in our neighborhood. They have been working on planning and building a Little Free Pantry to be set up at Shepherd of the Valley to be the Neighborhood Pantry. The Little Free Pantry model is based on the moto “Give what you can. Take what you need,” and the principles “We work Together. We challenge assumptions. We practice Radical Trust. We feed Neighbors. We nourish Neighborhoods.” A Little Free Pantry is meant for more than just non-perishables, but also toiletry and hygiene items. You can find out more about the Little Free Pantry movement here: https://www.littlefreepantry.org/.
The Pantry has been built and will be installed this coming Saturday August 29th. If you are really excited about this new project, you can come by Saturday afternoon to stock it with items!
I am excited to see how this new branch of our outreach takes off as we work to transition from the snack bags to the Little Free Pantry, with many of the same items just in a slightly different way. Watch your Monday emails from Shepherd of the Valley for information about what items are needed in a given week and for information about a drive-through donation drop off/Pantry open house in September.