Open for those in need, a Little Free Pantry downtown

The first Little Free Pantry is now stocked and open in Athens.

 

The small box, located near the entrance of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce on West Hancock Street, offers free food and home goods to anyone in need.


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The pantry, and others soon to follow, were the idea of one of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s current LEAD Athens teams. LEAD Athens is a program designed to develop effective local leaders committed to building a vibrant community.

When the team’s work is done, there will be 15 Little Free Pantries around Athens-Clarke County.

Doc Eldridge, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, said the effort is a good way to highlight the work of businesses in the community.

“This is showing what the business community does for our nonprofits,” Eldridge said. “So many of them depend on business community for board members and for financial help.”

Denise Plemmons, one organizer of the pantry system, said the team hopes to put up one new Little Free Pantry each week for the next few months.

“I don’t think it will be hard to keep them full, because we have a very giving community,” Plemmons said.

The project furthers the chamber’s theme this year, said Dean Mannheimer, chair of the chamber board.

“Our theme this year is ‘fostering a spirit of service,’” Mannheimer said. “Our goal is to serve our members and also to have our members serve the community.”

The first pantry is stocked for now, but everyone in the community is encouraged to donate items for it. Things like toothpaste, shampoo and canned foods are among the items that donors can consider placing in the boxes.

Plemmons is also interested in the other side of the transaction.

“I’m ready to see the first person come get something from the pantry,” Plemmons said.

Other pantries will be installed at the Athens Community Career Academy, 440 Dearing Extension; Ebenezer Baptist Church, 205 N. Chase St.; The ReBlossom Mama and Baby Shop, 220 N. Milledge Ave.; East Athens Community Center, 400 McKinley Drive; the Presbyterian Student Center, 1250 S. Lumpkin St., The Church at College Station, 1225 College Station Road and Extra Special People, 189 VFW Drive in Watkinsville.

Follow reporter Hilary Butschek on Twitter @hilarylbutschek or at https://www.facebook.com/hbutschek.

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