Volunteer Group Helps Distribute Essential Supplies With Heart Pantries

Aug 20, 2020

 

Of the six installed pantries, one of the pantries sits outside Kiva Grocery store in downtown Eugene.
Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News

 

A small group of volunteers called Visible Helpers have placed several red heart-shaped pantries around Eugene. The idea is to make food, water, and other supplies easily accessible for people in need.

Every Tuesday, Visible Helpers founder Samuel Collins cleans and stocks the boxes with bottled water and plastic bags that include a facemask, an alcohol wipe, and a bar of soap.

 

"Sometimes people will take stuff as I'm stocking and say 'hey, thank you man," said Collins.

 

The Heart Pantry Initiative started in June as a safe way for people access supplies judgement-free during all hours of the day.

 

Collins said the boxes are often empty because the need is great. But sometimes other people will leave donations of their own including money, food, and other supplies.

 

"When I first started I only wanted one box, but then I saw how often people use them, so now there's seven boxes," he said.

 

With the help of a local workshop owner, Collins and other volunteers were able to craft seven heart shaped boxes out of  wood. Six of them have been installed with the permission of the property owners. All but one of the boxes are located outside.

 

Gordan Wood, the owner of Great Harvest Bakery, said they agreed to install one of the pantries indoors as a way to help give back to the community.
Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC News

The only indoor location, as of now, is placed inside Great Harvest Bread Company where owner Gordon Wood said fresh loaves of bread are ususally stocked daily.

 

"With the whole pandemic and shutdowns we've been very fortunate to keep our business open...we were trying to do outreach of our own and this kind of coupled well," said Wood.

 

He said a few people have used the box, but he'd like to see more people use the it. "It's right next to our door and you don't even really have to talk to us, you can come in and grab what you need," Wood said.

 

When Collins' is not working on the project, he works as an Uber driver. He's hoping to finish school at the University of Oregon, but he'll likely be travelling this semester.

 

“Now I’m thinking [the Heart Pantry Initiative] should probably be like a nonprofit that can be able to replace [the boxes]," Collins said. "I also hope that maybe we can get a hold of metal boxes that are more long lasting and stuff like that."

 

Each box costs around $210 to build and the group is currently fundraising through GoFundMe to expand their services and help pay for supplies. They recently receieved a donation of 1,300 facemasks from a Taiwanese-based company.

 

Box Locations in Eugene:

  • Great Harvest Bread Company, 2564 Willamette St.
  • Kiva Grocery Store, 125 W 11th Ave.
  • Little Y Market, 603 W 19th Ave
  • Plaza Latina Supermarket and Taqueria 1333 W 7th Ave.
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1062 Charnelton St.
  • Whitebird Crisis Center, 341 E 12th Ave
  • Great Harvest Bread Company, 2564 Willamette St.

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