- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Little Free Pantry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church proves how easy it is to both help others and receive help.

The pantry is roughly a 3-foot by 2-foot white wooden box mounted to a post outside the church located in Cheyenne.

Typically, several bottles of water, along with snack crackers, a box of cereal and a tube of foot medicine are stocked on its shelves.

The door on the box is unlocked so people can take what they need at any time - and donate what they can at any time too.

“It is based on a balance of people giving and taking,” said Rev. Rick Veit, rector at St. Mark’s. “So far, we’ve had multiple people doing both.”

The idea is a simple one of neighbors helping neighbors. There are no forms to fill out, no red tape to untangle and no questions asked.

Since the St. Mark’s pantry was installed about a month ago, people have donated everything from toilet paper to canned goods.

The Little Free Pantry exists not only to help the area’s homeless, but anyone in need. The packaged food there might help a college student who needs to eat this week or someone who can’t make ends meet right now, Veit said.

People need such a service here, he added.

“I can’t tell you how many people come by our church and say, ‘My paycheck doesn’t come for another week,’ and ask for a sack lunch for the family,” he said.

“We provide that at the church, but this is a beautiful way where people don’t need to see a priest or a secretary, but they can remain completely anonymous, both those who give and those who receive.”

St. Mark’s members learned about the Little Free Pantry online. Websites are filled with stories of such pantries popping up across the country.

Veit also talked about the idea in one of his recent sermons. The church women’s group, called Girlfriends Unlimited, decided to move ahead with the idea at St. Mark’s.

Pam Snell, a church member and one of the pantry coordinators, said St. Mark’s applied to the Foundation for the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming for help. St. Mark’s received a $5,000 grant to build pantries in Laramie County.

St. Mark’s member Greg Sneesby donated his time to build three pantries, Snell said. One was for St. Mark’s, and the others went to Ascension and St. Paul’s Lutheran churches in Cheyenne.

Materials to build each pantry cost about $225.

Kent Porter is a member of Ascension Lutheran. He said the pantry has been installed at his church in a temporary spot until the ground thaws.

“The whole council was all for it,” Porter said, referring to the high level of support.

The pantry arrived at St. Paul’s in April, member Brad Carroll said. Its purpose is to provide something - like socks or snacks - that might tide somebody over, he said. But Carroll stressed the pantry is not meant for donations of food like homemade brownies.

Area residents are encouraged to contact St. Mark’s to get grant money to build their own pantries. Anyone can build them, from church members to members of civic groups to people who want them in their front yards.

Veit hopes to see pantries all over.

“It’s a nice, easy way to reach out to people in need,” Snell said.

___

Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com

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