Food pantry serves community; Baker students give at holidays
The combined efforts of the Baldwin City and Baker University communities are giving local residents much to be thankful for this holiday season. As the temperatures fall, Baldwin City is warming up in hopes that residents in need will fill their plates with what the community has to offer.
Sandra Bayha is one Baldwin City resident committed to filling those plates, literally. Bayha helps with the Baldwin First United Methodist food pantry. The pantry, which is open to the public, provides dry goods, non-perishable food items and vouchers for fresh foods such as produce and meat to those in need.
"We are there for people who need help," Bayha said.
The food pantry, located in the lower level of the church can be accessed through the church office. According to Bayha, people are given grocery sacks and may take as much food from the pantry's tightly stocked shelves as they can carry.
"I'd always like to see it used more," she said, adding that the church's missions committee started the program because there was nowhere in the area to receive food. "People would have to go to Lawrence, if it was not it Baldwin City," Bayha said.
The pantry provides food for not only Baldwin City residents. People from Edgerton, Gardner, Lawrence and Douglas County have benefited from the church's good work. They also donate excess food to the Palathe Center of Lawrence, which serves the Native American community.
When the food pantry first opened, the committee advertised around town, in the school district and in other churches.
"People around here have been really good," Bayha said, referring to the community's support. "It's pretty full right now, but we can always make room."
Baldwin City residents have donated an enormous amount of food to the pantry, which has enabled the church to extend its ministry and start looking toward the future.
"It'd be nice to use it for community emergencies. People could be sent to the church for food," said Bayha, noting that no restrictions are put on the frequency of use or the amount received. Anyone can use the pantry. The process is confidential; the church secretary simply hands over some grocery sacks. "We have no idea who uses it."
With most missions such as this, Bayha hopes more people use the pantry. There are many food items that could be used for Thanksgiving and holiday meals. Bayha hopes to get the word out about the food pantry, and make people aware of the recourses that are in Baldwin City.
Baldwin First United Methodist pastor Nanette Roberts is proud that the church can help the community.
"It's a way that the church, centered in Baldwin City, works hand on in mission to this community," said Roberts.
The food pantry has helped out with conference wide events such as the Crop Walk, which raises money and food for persons in need. The church missions committee also collected money and paper products for the Bishops' Roundup.
"The food pantry keeps in front of us that not everyone has enough," Roberts said.
That realization has fueled this project from the beginning and will aid the food pantry's growth in the future. Those interested in donating can contact the church office at 594-6612 or stop by the church, located at Eighth and Grove during the week.
Baker University students are also working to better their community during the holiday season. Presently, the university's Student Activities Committee is sponsoring an Angel Tree, in conjunction with the Douglas County Salvation Army. The program helps those who'd like to help children in need, find the right gift. Each paper angel that hangs on the tree, located in the student union, contains gift information. Students simply take the angel from the tree, buy the suggested gift, and return it to the SAC office by Dec. 8.
"This is our fourth year," said Susan Hoffman, director of Student Activities. Hoffman said the students love participating in the Angel Tree. "We usually have a vanload of toys, top to bottom."
Students look forward to the tree each year, because it provides a convenient way for them to help those in need receive gifts during the holiday season. The Salvation Army distributes the toys to children in the area.
Saturday Dec. 2 will be a busy day for Baker students. Students led by University Minister Ira DeSpain will rake leaves for senior and disabled citizens in Baldwin City. The mission project, in its third year, draws a large number of students out of their dorms and into the community. Anyone interested in having his or her yard raked can call 5944553.