Community pantry outside church in North Edmonton offers a ‘real place of joy’ – Edmonton


A church in North Edmonton has opened a “take what you need, share what you can” community pantry.

“I had noticed, as a priest of this church, that a lot of people were calling and asking for help with food,” said Ven. Jordan Haynie Ware, rector of the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Castle Downs.

“There were a lot of people who might not qualify for the food bank or had already maximized their food bank benefits or were more transient and didn’t meet some sort of residency requirement. It was really hard not to have something to be able to help them.

The church community found instructions online and built a community pantry.

It is intended for the whole neighborhood; not just families or individuals who are members of the church, added Haynie Ware.

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“So that our whole community can help feed and share with each other. So, we don’t just think of our individual families, but we also think of our whole neighborhood as a family. “

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It is open to anyone to donate or take, as needed, she said. The church will check it regularly to make sure nothing inside has been damaged or frozen. The church will also add supplies when it can.

“Basically it’s just a completely open space,” said Haynie Ware. “People who want to spend $ 5, $ 10, $ 20 more on groceries. Just buy an additional item of something you’re already buying anyway. Come put it in the pantry and people can come and get what they need when they need it.

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As it is not staffed, it is available around the clock and for everyone.

“They don’t rely on volunteers or specific schedules. There is no income requirement. It’s for people who need it, who have a hard time getting food on their tables. It’s also for people who get off the bus and say, “Oh damn, I haven’t got any of that in the house, let me check out this community pantry. “

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“It’s not just for the people who struggle,” said Haynie Ware. “We don’t want people to feel like they have to reach some kind of threshold to access what they need. We also want them to have the freedom to choose what they want and not have to justify anything. “

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She encourages anyone who wants to help donate to the pantry or start a similar initiative in their own neighborhood.

“There’s a lot more room in Edmonton for little chips like this. If your faith community… your community league wants to set up one, we are very happy to share our experience.

“All of Edmonton deserves to have this kind of community care for each other in the middle of a tough season. “

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Interested in making a donation?

Because Edmonton’s winters are harsh, donations must be able to freeze and their containers must not crack in the cold. This means that the preserves and objects in glass jars are out.

“The water in the cans freezes and then the can will burst,” said Haynie Ware.

What are the good options?

“All kinds of dry, non-perishable goods, cereals, oatmeal, Kraft Dinner is very popular… As soon as we add KD to the pantry, it’s gone. “

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Non-liquid toiletries are also very popular: soaps, feminine hygiene products.

Baby care items and warm socks, mittens, gloves and hand warmers are also good things to give, said Haynie Ware.

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‘Spot of joy’

“The idea of ​​community pantries – supportive pantries – has been around for a very long time. “

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The need has increased during the pandemic, said Haynie Ware.

“I notice a lot more desperation and need in the community. I’m getting a lot more dates than before. Sometimes they have material needs that can be met by something like a pantry. Sometimes they just need to talk to someone.

The community pantry opened just a few weeks ago, but already the priest is blown away by the response.

“Every time I go out to check it out, there is something new that has been given and something has been taken.

“It was a real joy for me personally. “

The pantry, says Haynie Ware, allows for generosity while reducing the shame that can sometimes accompany accepting help.

“To make it a mutual opportunity instead of just being the recipient of charity, I think it gives people a lot of joy to give back.”

The Good Shepherd Anglican Church is located just north of 153 Avenue on Castle Downs Road.

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Norma P. Rex