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The newest fad in people helping people: Little Free Pantries.

This woman put a pantry in a parking lot. Her reason why is amazing.

The newest fad in people helping people: Little Free Pantries.

Jessica McClard jogged around her neighborhood in Arkansas and saw these:

This is the Little Free Library near the fire station in my hometown in Missouri! How cute is this? Photo by me.


These are Little Free Libraries. Neighborhoods and communities build them and then stock them with books. All the books are free, and it's an open-source operation — neighbors see a need for new books and fill it. In June 2016, there were 40,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide!

They gave Jessica an idea. Instead of Little Free Libraries filled with books, she wanted to create Little Free Pantries, stocked with food and other pantry items.

The concept of the Little Free Pantry is simple: Build a pantry, place it in your community, and fill it with items. Then tell folks about it! Items in the Little Free Pantry include non-perishable food and drink but can also include sanitary products, diapers, light bulbs, and school supplies.

All images used with permission from Little Free Pantry on Facebook.

The primary purpose of the Little Free Pantry is to offer some support to anyone in the community who may be experiencing need.

According to the USDA, an estimated 14% percent of American households were food-insecure at some point in 2014. That's over 1 in 10 households dealing with a lack of affordable, nutritious food.

Food pantries can't always stay open 24 hours, but Little Free Pantries can. So with a tiny seed grant of $250 from her employer, Thrivent Financial, Jessica put her idea into action. She planted her first pantry in her church's parking lot in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


From there, Jessica let folks know about it on her Facebook page, and the idea took off!

"It doesn’t matter if you’re low-income or upper-middle-class," she says. "It’s a community meeting point."

She has kept tabs on the one pantry so far, and she's seeing it get refilled around six times a day already.

Jessica says: "I really owe so much to the Little Free Library concept. I didn’t really invent the wheel. I duplicated that library box, but I put food in it!"

Three months after she posted about the first pantry, Jessica started hearing that folks in other towns, states, and even countries were planting their own Little Free Pantries, too.

Some communities are planning to put up a few Little Free Pantries here and there, while other groups are planning to build up to 40.

It just feels like it's good for good’s sake and no other reason," Jessica says. "In our news cycle, everything feels so negative and scary, and I think this is a counter to that."

"For me, the need to give is a very strong need," Jessica says. "It may not be as great as a need for food. But people need to serve. Probably, all people do."

She says projects like these give her hope in humanity, too.

"It’s just been amazing to see people respond in such a positive way. ... It's a reaffirmation of the fact that people do care about each other."

That box feels like my Narnia. It’s just a little box, and I open that door and the world just becomes ... bigger.

To keep important connections, conversations, and change going, Jessica intends to keep the project entirely open-source.

"Sometimes I get asked if I’m interested in becoming an organization," she said. "I don’t want to put any barriers in the way of doing this. The more people on the project, the better."

The concept is open to everyone to try. She loves getting suggestions from the community, and she's hoping that some folks will take it upon themselves to repurpose kitchen cabinets to plant their own "green" pantries!

"I would hope that in stocking the pantry, it would inspire folks to get even more involved in community service because it’s a really easy first step."


Jessica says Little Free Pantry has been a weird, wild, awesome ride that never would've happened if she hadn't taken a chance on herself.

"I wonder sometimes too about all these ideas out there that just stay an idea."

"I am meeting people that I never would’ve met. It’s really a cool, overwhelming experience. It’s really just changed my life. "

"That box feels like my Narnia."

"It’s just a little box, and I open that door and the world just becomes ... bigger. It’s just been a grand adventure."

What do you think? Is your neighborhood ready for its own Narnia?

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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