More

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

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

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?

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


Keep Reading Show less

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less