PONTIAC - A founder of the Livingston County Community Pantry said she pushed for it because she knew there was an unmet need, and she noted the large turnout on its opening day Saturday proved her right.
"God put this thought in my mind a couple of years ago and we kept pushing it, and little by little we managed to put it together," said Ruth Schlosser, co-chairwoman of the pantry's board of directors. "There has been a need for this for a very long time, and it has gotten greater and greater."
With oversized novelty scissors in hand, Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy cut a ceremonial ribbon Saturday morning to open the facility at 420 N. Plum St. He and volunteers at the pantry then pitched in to hand out the supplies.
The pantry was stocked full of canned and boxed foods and a range of toiletries and hygiene products, such as toilet paper and toothpaste.
Schlosser said she and others were influenced by seeing that 67 percent of students at Central Elementary School in Pontiac were on a free-lunch program for low-income families and that 30 percent to 50 percent of students in surrounding Livingston County communities were on a similar program.
"There are so many people who are in the working poor class," she said. "(They) have a full-time job and are doing what they are supposed to do by working a job and paying their bills, but sometimes they don't have enough."
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The waiting room was already overflowing with 15 to 20 people who came for the pantry's services at the opening.
One woman said she appreciates the new service.
"This is really nice," she said. "I work full time, and sometimes I can't make ends meet."
The city donated the building, McCoy said. Construction on the pantry began in May with volunteer labor and donated food, storage containers and fittings.
The pantry's only cost will be utilities, McCoy said.
"Glad to see that the city can assist with the building and make this into a reality," he said. "I think it's going to work very well for the city of Pontiac and the entire county. I have a feeling that they will be here until they outgrow it."
The pantry's hours will continue to be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday throughout the month of July. It will add 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays in August and 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays in September, Schlosser said.
How to help
Livingston County Community Pantry organizers have asked for nonperishable items, especially canned meat and pork and beans. Paper products, detergent and cleaning supplies also are needed. For information, call (815) 844-1039.