April 9, 2021

Essentials Pantry to host food and essentials item drive with hope of receiving grant money

By Lorraine Glowczak

For about five years, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham, established a monthly Essentials Pantry for those who may be facing challenging circumstances by providing personal and household items that cannot be purchased by an EBT debit card.

Since then, the program has grown to serve more than 100 families, with about 25 families participating on a monthly basis. The pantry also offers commodities that are not available at local food pantries.

If 500 or more items are collected during the
St. Ann's Essential's Pantry Drive, the pantry
will be in the running to receive an additional
$500. If awarded, the monetary gift will be
used to purchase essential items when the stock
is low. The food and essentials drive will take
place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 18.
“We provide personal hygiene and cleaning products that are acceptable to donate and are not provided by local food pantries, like powdered laundry detergents and stick deodorants,” Deacon Wendy Rozene, of St. Ann’s said. Rozene is the founder of St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry.

Part of the Pantry’s success has been due, in part, by the donations they have received from the community at large. Also, about two years ago, Faith Lutheran Church, 988 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, joined the Pantry efforts as a part of their ecumenical Faith in Action initiative. They contribute donations, monetary funds and volunteers.

Recently, Faith Lutheran Church received $250 from a Thrivent* Action Grant to organize a community food and essential items drive. Funds are earmarked to go toward marketing efforts to create awareness and to invite the community to gather the much needed items. Faith Lutheran elected to apply the grant award toward St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry.

If 500 items or more are collected during the drive, the Pantry will be in the running to receive an additional $500. If awarded, the monetary gift will be used to purchase essential items when the stock is low. The food and essential items drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 18.

The pantry serves those who live in Raymond, Standish, Casco, Gorham, Windham and other Sebago Lakes region area. The only thing an individual needs to receive the free products is proof of residence (CMP bill, etc.). No questions will be asked.

The types of essentials the Pantry needs include the following: bars of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, stick deodorant, toothbrushes, powdered laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, hand lotion, razors, shaving cream, spray cleaners and Comet.

Non-perishable food items are limited to: Pasta and pasta sauce, peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish and canned chicken, canned vegetables and soups and non-sugar cereals.  

The Essential Pantry is open the last Saturday of every month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. During non-pandemic times, families and individuals were able to select the items they needed in the lower level of the church; however, the pantry has made special accommodations to adhere to Maine CDC guidelines. 

“We now bag items separately and have them prepared as people drive up to the door, remain in their car with masks on and we put the bags in the trunk of the vehicle,” Rozene said. 

The Essentials Pantry also collaborates with the Windham Food Pantry to help keep their pantry stocked and running successfully. 

“There are times we have a lot of food donated to us which we can’t easily store,” Rozene said. “So, we give some of that to the Windham Food Pantry and the toiletry items they can’t give out, they give to us. It is a win-win situation.”

Briefly and as written in a previous Windham Eagle Article, the idea for the Essentials Pantry came when someone dropped off rolls of paper towels into the collection basket at a church service after having read an article in The Windham Eagle about items that the food pantry didn’t provide.

Rozene noticed the donation and thought about the same article which she’d read. She got permission to start an initiative through a grant she applied for from the Dioceses of Maine for $3,000, which gave the pantry its start. Rozene bought shelves and loaded them for the first day. 

Food, essential items and monetary donations can be made in person or sent via snail mail to: St. Ann’s Essential Pantry, PO Box 911, Windham 04062. If delivered in person, the office is open Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, Contact Wendy Rozene at: wendyrozene@gmail.com or Stephen Palmer at best1axz75@gmail.com. <

*About Thrivent:

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation supports programs that contribute to the health and vitality of the greater Lutheran community and beyond. FMI: www.thrivent.com/what-we-offer/generosity/

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