“Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed to come in,” says Jackie Wyatt about the “little free pantry” she and her husband, John, host in the garage of their Shoreline home.
The couple was homeless for almost 17 months, then lived for many more in a shelter. Shelter staff found the home where they are now living.
Jackie says the community came together to help them out and the “not-so-little” pantry, whose official name is North City Little Free Pantry “Share with Your Neighbor,” is their way to give back and help other people.
The Wyatts’ garage is filled with food, clothes, shoes, toys, baby items, Christmas decorations, lamps, pet food, books, toys and just about whatever else people might need.
Hot food is available after 8 p.m. Friday to Tuesday, and fresh bread is there every Tuesday after 5 p.m. Pastries are given away each evening, Monday through Friday, after 8.
Their hours are officially 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but Jackie says they are really open all day, every day. They have hung Christmas lights from the ceiling to light the garage at night. She estimates that about 10 families have come by every day since they opened the pantry in March.
One sign on a wall reads, “Take what you will use. Leave what you can. Share with your neighbor!” But there is no limit as to what people can take or donate. Items most needed are toiletry items, dryer sheets, diapers, baby food, menstrual products, toothbrushes, snack items, nonperishable foods, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
As long as the community needs them, Jackie says, they will remain.
For more information, visit the North City Little Free Pantry’s Facebook page.