A principle I was taught in seminary was to not reinvent the wheel; instead, be observant, learn from those before you, and build on their success. A few years ago, when I discovered the Little Free Library, I paid attention. Here’s what they write on their website “Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.” The words “Builds Community” jumped out to me. This is exactly what I want to do with our neighbours.
When COVID-19 hit, I recalled the Little Free Library when we were brainstorming how we could connect with our community with the building closed. In searching, I came across the Little Free Pantry movement which aims to be a “solution to immediate and local need” by feeding neighbours and nourishing neighbourhoods. We took a blueprint from their website, built two matching boxes (one to be a library and one to be a pantry) and attached some plywood between to act as a bulletin board to help foster community.
I called our local councillor to do a ribbon cutting at our grand opening. With him coming, I called local news stations and used his name to get the newspaper and local news to report on it. God used this platform to reach our neighbours. In fact, our lead pastor’s neighbour heard the radio interview, called to our pastor over the fence one afternoon, and handed him a $100 grocery gift card just to be part of it. What an exciting moment that was.
Within a matter of days, we received a plethora of food and book donations and the donations have remained steady ever since. Even more importantly, they’re not just coming in; they’re going out. In three months, we’ve seen hundreds of pantry essentials and hundreds of books, including 12 Bibles, given to our neighbours. Praise God! Not only has this project had a practical impact on our community, it impacted our church too! We’ve had both members and neighbours ask how they can help and how to get involved in future projects like this. It has been our easiest ministry win to date, all thanks to COVID-19.