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Posted January 30, 2018

Students Stock Free Pantries on Edge of Campus

Van Buren Middle School has partnered with the Coronado Kiwanis Club to create and maintain two pantries for those in need.

The old man cautiously approached the little pantry on the edge of the Van Buren Middle School campus, hesitating to take anything from it despite a sign welcoming him to do just that. After some coaxing from bystanders who had just watched a group of teens stock the wooden box with household goods, toiletries and nonperishable food items, the old man opened up the pantry, took out a bottle of dishwashing soap, slipped it inside his jacket and quietly walked away.

That's exactly what the students in the school's Goody 2 Shoes Club want their neighbors to do. Their group partnered with the Coronado Kiwanis Club to build and stock two pantries for their neighbors in need.

The pantries work on a take something/leave something basis, though the kids know that many who take can't afford to leave. That's why they are fundraising, collecting goods and working to get the word out. 

The project is modeled after a national program called The Little Free Pantry, which began a couple of years in Arkansas and has expanded across the nation. The two pantries on Van Buren's campus are the first in New Mexico. One is located at the corner of Louisiana and Southern SE and the other near the bus drop off near the Caesar Chavez Community Center on Kathryn SE.

Students polled their community to find out the types of items they should stock the pantries with: 

  • toiletries like toothpaste and bath soap
  • canned and boxed food
  • household cleaners like dish soap and laundry soap
  • clothing like new socks.

Funding for the pantries came in part from the APS Education Foundation through an Achieve Award. The students helped design the pantries that were built by the Kiwanis. They were installed during winter break.

Anyone can donate to the little pantries by placing items in the boxes themselves, or by dropping off goods at the school or to the Coronado Kiwanis, who meet every Wednesday morning at 7 at the Egg and I.

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