While people are stuck in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, grocery shopping has become a sacred activity. Those who are healthy and able and can afford it can still get to the store when they need, but so many others are struggling to keep their kitchens full of pantry staples and supplies.
We've seen several instances of people setting up free pantries in their yards to offer groceries and toilet paper and other goods to their neighbors. But Terry and Don Gall's pantry is a little different!
Inspired by the idea of those little free libraries, Terry and Don set up a few shelves of groceries on their front lawn for people to take. Canned and boxed meals, mostly, nonperishables that could help those in need fill out their pantries.
Terry and Don's kid, who goes by BoomDani on Imgur, posted all their photos and told the story. Dani thought the free pantry was a great idea, but they didn't think the groceries would last long.
They thought that one person would come by and take everything or that it would be vandalized, as their parents's holiday decorations have been several times in the past.
But the opposite happened. In a totally impressive act of humanity, not only did people not hoard the goods from the free pantry, but they added to it.
It started as a free pantry, but now it was a free library, too. Soon, more and more people were contributing goods to the neighborhood pantry, including toilet paper, which has become an extremely coveted product these days.
People began bringing so much food that Terry and Don had to whip out extra tables for all of it. People really just wanted to contribute to the wonderful cause of providing food for people who need it and, for whatever reason, can't get it.
Soon, people began contributing money to the cause, too! Sizable donations allowed Terry and Don to purchase more tables for their pantry, and even a tent to protect the goods from the sun.
On Facebook, Terry wrote, "Since our pantry is constantly growing we upgraded to a tent. All the items are still free to all who needs them. Thank you to everyone who has donated items and cash! Without you this would not be possible."
She continued, "PLEASE come by if you're in need. We're all in this together." This whole project really was born out of a desire to help those who can't get to the grocery store for any reason.
Eventually, someone did complain to the health department about the neighborhood pantry, and while they weren't shut down, they were severely limited in what they could put on their shelves.
They are no longer allowed to provide fresh produce, meat, dairy, or baked goods. But they are still collecting canned goods, paper goods, hygiene products, pet food, beverages, condiments, and snacks for whoever needs. It's become a project that the whole neighborhood is invested in.
And they're not stopping anytime soon. Terry recently posted a picture of lots of the Easter snacks that will be available soon for people with kids.
"Since Easter is right around the corner, on April 9 at 9:30 a.m. the Gall Pantry will be handing out Easter goodies to parents for the kiddos!" Terry wrote on Facebook. "This event will last until supplies run out! The only rules are staying 6 ft. apart from each other and the honor system."
It's stories like these that give me hope during this time. People on an individual level really have been there for each other throughout this trying time. That's the silver lining that matters most.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.