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Paperpantry T

tell the volunteers that those items certainly are. Two years ago, member Vicki Morgan realized that

people aren’t allowed to purchase basic paper and per- sonal products with state food assistance. They were going without these items in order to put gas in their cars or fill prescriptions. So the church opened a pantry that twice a month provides families with toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, paper towels, feminine products, shampoo and deodorant. When the pantry first opened, 12 families received a bag full of the necessary items. Now about 85 families (70 repeat customers and 15 new) visit the pantry when it’s open the second Thursday (5-7 p.m.) and fourth

38 The Lutheran •

Thursday (9-11 a.m.) each month. That’s 180 families and 800 family members who benefit each month. The pantry serves Emmet County, but families from at least five other counties have also visited. Recipi- ents don’t have to prove their need, said Bev Engel, who runs the pantry. “We make it a nice place and wel- come them,” she said, adding that they offer to pray with visitors or ask if they want to be added to the prayer list or meet with the pastor. Engel and the four regular volun- teers who help distribute the items know many of those dropping in

by name and necessity. “We’ll ask, ‘How’s your foot today?’ ” Engel said. Her favorite success story is of a 35-year-old woman who, when realizing she could get feminine products from the pantry, had tears in her eyes because she hadn’t known where she was going to find $3 to buy some. Another person was moved to tears because it was the

first time she had the “luxury” of paper towels in three years. “We get lots of thank-yous, lots of hugs,” Engel said.

Items that are distributed are purchased or donated.

Michigan church fills a niche need By Julie B. Sevig

issues and paper towels may not be luxury items in your home, but folks who visit the Paper Pantry at Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Petoskey, Mich.,

With grant money, Engel buys from Michigan’s Manna Food Project at discounted prices. But she also knows where some items can be purchased at an even better rate, citing exact prices down to the penny—“$1.16 or $1.29—from two different dollar stores. “For a small congregation, this helps us focus on the community at large,” said Sherry McGuffin, pastor. “Working together with many hands makes for a suc- cessful ministry in the name of Christ.” McGufffin said one of the blessings of the pantry

ministry “is that it truly exists without me.” Members and the community are deeply involved. Contributions often appear at church without a name even attached to them.

She called the Paper Pantry typical of ministries at

Cross of Christ that a member might feel called to do, and the rest of the congregation rallies in support. “They won’t let this ministry fail,” she said. 

Sevig is a section editor of The Lutheran.

For more information, contact the congregation at

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