LITTLETON - It’s just a small yellow and blue box just off Littleton Boulevard, but a group of students at Heritage High School hope it makes a big difference for one neighborhood.
You’ve probably heard of Little Free Libraries. They’re the little bookshelves in people’s yards you can find all over town with a few books inside. The idea is people in the community can borrow books and hopefully leave their own.
A Little Free Food Pantry is the same concept – only in this case, it’s full of non-perishable food for people in need.
You can find one of them in Littleton outside of Doctors Care at Fox Street and West Littleton Boulevard. It’s something that took multiple people multiple months to get off the ground.
It all started when Karen Kaiser decided she wanted her daughter to get involved in a community service project. She’s a student at Heritage High School.
Kaiser says she saw a post about Little Free Food Pantries in Arkansas on her Facebook feed and it struck her as a cool idea.
“So, we thought ‘let’s do this, and let’s see if we can get other kids involved,’” she said.
She started making some calls, and that’s how she got in touch with Bebe Kleinman, the CEO of Doctor’s Care.
Kleinman helped them navigate some of the legal hoops that accompany free food pantries, and let them put it on Doctor’s Care property.
“I think there’s a lot of small things that can be done, and together, they can contribute to the betterment of a person’s health,” Kleinman said.
Kaiser’s husband was the one who ultimately built the pantry, and eight kids at Heritage are taking turns making sure that it’s restocked. They usually go to the pantry a few times a week.
Kleinman says some of the doctors and volunteers at Doctor’s Care also make sure that the pantry is rarely empty.
“We have definitely seen the pantry get low and then, miraculously, it fills with food,” Kleinman said.
The pantry officially opened on May 8, and kids are booked to help restock the pantry through October.
Kleinman says at this point, the pantry hasn’t been abused.
“We haven’t seen one family or one person coming and emptying out the whole pantry,” she said. “There always seems to be something, or a few things, left until the next day, and then it gets refilled.”
Kaiser says the families currently involved in the pantry are the ones supplying the food, but in the future, they hope to have food drives to help make their little yellow box turn into an even bigger idea.
As for her daughter, Kaiser says the pantry has already taught her an important lesson about how lucky she is.
“She just realizes that she’s got it pretty good,” Kaiser said.
Kleinman says people who want to build their own pantry should do their due diligence, and make sure they abide by their city’s codes.
She says it’s also important to choose the right neighborhood and right organization to align with.
“I … think it’s a way for the community in which we live to participate in small ways,” she said.
There’s a Q&A about Little Free Pantries on the national website here: http://bit.ly/2oP3bNd
And for more information on the Little Free Pantry in Littleton and to donate, go to: http://bit.ly/2rvHXar
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