Local Charities – Little Free Pantry

Newest Little Free Pantry

by Stephanie Fain
Buchanan’s newest Little Free Pantry at Church of the Nazarene, Photo by Stephanie Fain

You might wonder what makes this town so great. Is it the location? Is there some invisible force field you pass through coming into town that just changes the overall experience, attitude and surroundings? What makes this old school hunting society slow down for ducks? This place is so full of love, you can hear it flowing from the creek, it is baked into the bread from Gary Z’s, you can smell it from the new shops downtown and you can see it when you look at photos like these. This right here is an example of what makes Buchanan, Buchanan. People working synergistically together to create a better tomorrow. There were needs, people worked together, pulled together their resources, and now there is another resource. Pictured above is said newest resource. Pictured below, are two heads representing two churches for one community, Brendan Shea (husband, father of now 2 as of just days ago, and Pastor of Buchanan Church of the Nazarene), and Nate Babcock (husband, father, Baptizer of me, and Pastor of Buchanan Christian Church). To my experience, these are not just pastors, they are problem solvers, event and disaster coordinators, grief counselors, flock tenders, prayer warriors, on-call all the time and always trying to get ahead of a problem. This is their Wednesday.

Problem Solvers Brendan Shea and Nate Babcock stand proud by the newest Little Free Pantry, Photo by Stephanie Fain

Open to whomever is in need, nestled quietly and conveniently close to the entrance of the Church of Nazarene’s colorful and inviting entrance, the freshly painted pantry is full! Of what? Pastas, canned goods, milk that is able to be stored in cupboards, snacks of all sorts, toiletries and even gift cards to Harding’s. Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a focus and action group formed within BCC that finds creative and resourceful ways to enrich our community, started this project back in June 2020. The church of Nazarene provided the space and welcomed the pantry with open arms as BCC pastor Nate’s father-in-law and son, Ben, constructed the blessings box. They have arranged alternating months for the task of stocking and upkeep of the pantries. All together they made this community stronger. On one side of the raised, cleverly-roofed pantry, there were plastic bags, and inside the secured door there is a laminated piece of paper with that clever “Take what you need and leave what you can..”

“Take what you need…. Leave what you can” sign on the newest Little Free Pantry, Photo by Stephanie Fain

It is said that a society is no stronger than its weakest citizen. This town is no stranger to helping each other, and many are aware of the programs we have in the community of Buchanan that are set up to help our neighbors in need. This is the third Little Free Pantry in Buchanan, where are the other two? The second is downtown by the post office and was sponsored by the Girl Scouts, well known for instilling and inspiring the next generation of philanthropists. The first? Who started this ripple? *drumroll* “I worked in the public school system with low income and special needs kids and I saw a need for something like that in town. I had seen another thing like it in another community and knew Buchanan could use something like that. I tried through the city, then a few churches before the Masons allowed me to install there. Since that first one, a local girl scout troop made another one at Townhall,” said serial-volunteer, Ashley Hanson. When questioned about the newest Little Free Pantry that had just been opened, Ashley said, “I love it so very much, it’s the kind of ripple effect I hoped would happen.”  There is more to make. Ashley’s splash has moved a high school student in Galien on the National Honor Society to place one in Galien as their senior project.

“If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived?”

Maya Angelou

Ashley blames her obvious anti-hoarding problems and volunteer impulse-control on her “setting a good example” and “parenting.” “I want more than anything, to leave a legacy for the future. I aim to teach my son by living the life I feel will influence him to do good as well. I lead by example. I also hope to inspire and encourage any other kids in my path.”

In my experience, giving is contagious. Ashley tried with the city, when she didn’t get her answer she went to the churches and then a spot opened up. That was in Thanksgiving of 2018. Before the pandemic hit, but not by much, and guess who had to close their doors for obvious health reasons that many people here in Buchanan regularly rely on? RAM. Ashley’s ripple kept who knows how many people fed during this pandemic. She kept people involved and informed in stocking the Little Free Pantries through her online Facebook group. What would have happened had Ashley given up? Not this ripple. People often end up finding their own voice and light while witnessing the energy and light of others while lighting up, in Ashley, Nate and Brendan’s case, that light is giving. Like the part of “Trolls” where their tiny little lights are turning on after a drought of certainty, I hear the bells. Ting, ting, ting ting. Let’s light this town up!

Never stop Growing, Buchanan!

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