Donations needed for Free Food Pantry project

One small box. A big impact.

A student-led service initiative aims to assist area families in need via the newly installed "Little Free Food Pantry." The pantry is a small green box located on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church that will be continually stocked with non-perishable food, hygiene items and other necessities.

Student leaders are calling on the Spartanburg Day School community to help keep the pantry filled. They've coordinated with the House System to hold competitive drives throughout the year – the first starting now and lasting through Oct. 19. Each item donated means points for the donor's respective House.

The project is led by Upper School students Anne Dobson Ball, Ellie Toler, Anna Gramling, and Grace Kleman. The idea was sparked last winter when senior Anne Dobson regularly noticed a woman pushing a bicycle filled with her belongings.

"For about a month or so, on my way to pick up my sister from basketball practice, I could count on seeing her every night. I wanted to do something to help her, and others in a similar situation," she said. "This box is something I have a genuine passion for, and hope to see it prosper and help those who are struggling. This food pantry is the way I feel I, along with my friends at school, can make an actual difference for those who are down on their luck."

Anne Dobson enlisted to help of teachers and friends to form a plan of action. She learned about box food pantries and asked permission from First Presbyterian Church to install one on the church's property. The church regularly serves meals to the homeless community, and the box's new location, beside the Arthur Center at First Pres, will be convenient for anyone passing by to take what they need.

"Watching the food pantry come to life has been humbling and inspiring," said Paige Phillips, Upper School Dean of Students. "One of the most rewarding aspects of being an educator is the opportunity to work with students who use their passions and gifts to serve the community. Anne Dobson, Anna, Grace and Ellie define what it means to be a leader. They recognized a need and, in the spirit of our school mission, acted to improve the lives of others. How fortunate we are to have such passionate, caring students at Spartanburg Day School!"

Upper School teacher Tim Fisher coordinates the school's Leader Development Program, which includes the House System. He said projects like this are reflections of leadership at its best.

"At SDS we believe that, while not everyone will hold a leadership position, we can identify the elements and skills of leadership and we can help every student develop their capacity to lead. The House System drives for the free food pantry are a great example of this," he said. "Anne Dobson identified and researched a need in Spartanburg that has become a passion for her. She has advocated hard for our community to take some action, and the free food pantry is the result of her authentic desire to do some good. When we think about who our students are, and what they do, it is this active kindness and creativity that are the hallmarks of a true leader at SDS."

Collection bins for all six Houses are set up in all three divisions. Donations must be nonperishable and could include: granola bars, crackers, nuts, water bottles peanut butter packs, peanut butter crackers, plastic utensils, applesauce, fruit juices, beef jerky, socks, gloves, heating pouches, canned items (with a pull-back lid), ramen noodles, cereal, hygiene items, hand sanitizer, tissues, band aids, deodorant, chap stick, toothpaste or toothbrushes.

Donations needed for Free Food Pantry project