These grants include $20,000 from the Marion A. and Ruth K. Sherwood Family Fund and $15,000 from the Greatest Need Fund. The grants will help cover the cost of renovations to the Spring Lake parish’s former elementary school building in order to convert a portion of it into a new home for its food pantry.
The grants have provided the initial funding toward the approximately $125,000 cost of the renovation work. The parish is currently soliciting donations to cover the remainder of the cost.
By renovating the building at 431 E. Exchange St., St. Mary’s will be increasing the size of the pantry by more than 40 percent, as well as increasing the storage space available for food items. They say the new entrance off Prospect Street will be more accessible and the distance from the parking spaces to the front door will be greatly reduced. There will also be a larger client seating area and more client parking.
“Spiritually, the benefit will be experienced by all because of the openness of the new cabinet layout and the large bank of windows to the west, providing more light and warmth,” layout designer Gary Willoughby said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in the new few weeks and be completed by the end of February 2017 The relocation will take place over a two-week period at that time.
“Since I began volunteering in the food pantry at St. Mary’s four years ago, the size of this ministry has grown each year to meet the needs of the increasing number of pantry visitors from the Tri-Cities community,” pantry volunteer Mary Ann Herbst reflected. “It is not uncommon to find a line waiting outside the door each Thursday morning before the pantry opens. More visitors mean more food is needed, which, in turn, requires more shelf and storage space, and more room to welcome and assist the visitors. The current limited pantry space and location are no longer able to adequately meet these needs.”
St. Mary’s food pantry serves an average of 17 families each week and has already assisted more than 2,000 clients in 2016. For more information, visit the parish website, stmaryspringlake.org.