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'Little Free Pantry' Movement Is Spreading Across the Country

You may have encountered the "little free library" phenomenon that has popped up in neighborhoods all over the country: a cabinet-like box filled with books that's set out in a front yard, with a sign urging passerby to check out a book (or to donate their own). Now, a similar movement is taking place—except instead of little libraries adorning front lawns, little pantries are appearing, "stocked with free food and personal care items like toothbrushes and diapers for people in need."

For one pantry owner, Maggie Ballard of Wichita, her "blessing box" is "something small that … would benefit so many people so long as the word got out about it." She and her son "check on it every day and restock as needed." The box isn't locked, and the items inside are free—often, community members donate them.

What sets these tiny pantries apart from traditional food pantries—aside from their size—is their "sense of anonymity." Most visitors to the pantry come during the night, but Ballard has spotted a few: "On Christmas Eve she watched as a family of three opened her box to find a bag of bagels and started eating them right there."

"We're all short on time and money," she said, "and this is way that people can feel like they are making a difference."

Potential Preaching Angles: This story reminds us that our neighborhoods can be our mission fields, and that our literal neighbors can be the "neighbors" Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31).

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