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.
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,
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
“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
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
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.