By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
The Little Free Pantry, usually located at the Kentwood Activities Center, has been well received since first being introduced last year.
In fact, according to Kentwood Parks and Recreation Coordinator Laura Barbrick, it has been so popular that at times it has been a little tough keeping it stocked.
So as part of this year’s Kentwood Martin Luther King Jr. event, the city will be hosting a food drive to help stock the Little Free Pantry. The food drive is set to run from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, at Family Fare, 6127 Kalamazoo Ave. SE and from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at Celebration Cinema South, 1506 Eastport Dr. SE.
Started in Arkansas with the motto “Neighbors serving neighbors,” the Little Free Pantry is similar to the little free library movement. The pantries are designed to be small and fill an immediate and local need. Basically, take an item or items when needed and leave an item or items when you can.
Kentwood introduced the Little Free Pantry at the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. event. It’s official home is at the Kentwood Activities Center, however; while the center is being remodeled, the pantry has been moved to the KDL Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branch, 4950 Breton Ave. SE.
“We have a number of families that utilize the pantry on a regular basis,” Barbrick said. “We are definitely getting more donations now that it is at the library, but we anticipate the need will continue once it moves back to the Activities Center.”
Donations are accepted at the Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Ave. SE, during normal business hours, and once the center reopens in March, donations will be accepted there as well.
The city will end Jan. 15 with a program honoring Dr. King. That program will be at 4:30 p.m. at the library. There will be a proclamation from Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley, a presentation by Kyle Ray, pastor of Kentwood Community Church, music by Craig Tyson, and refreshments provided by The Candied Yam.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. Campaigns for the day honoring King, who was assassinated in 1968, began soon after his death. Former President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.