Michele Thorpe has been in charge of the Ellendale Food Pantry for 7 years. When Michele was the Parish Nurse for Ellendale, she realized how much need there was for a food pantry. The food pantry that was available at the time was in a dark room, in the back of a rundown building with expired food. It became a personal mission for Michele to help the people in need in her community. Michele’s family is also a big supporter of the Food Pantry. Michele’s daughter came home from school one day and told her mom that there was a kid in her class that needed a brush and a toothbrush, Michele and her daughter went and got the supplies needed for this child and delivered them to school the next day! Michele is the Director of Nursing at Prince of Peace, volunteers on the Ambulance crew, 4H Leader, Church Youth Group Leader, and serves on the school board. Though filling the needs of others is a blessing, she is even more rewarded by making others feel good and putting a smile on their face. Michele feels the biggest needs in our community are transportation for seniors and people who are not able to drive, and expanding the food pantry to a different building; which would also include a second hand store. You can find the Ellendale Community Food Pantry on Facebook, and Michele does return messages if left for her through Facebook.
Ellendale Branch President, Jeff Peterson helped with the food pantry in August for about 3 hours, and it was a very eye opening experience on how much work and dedication is involved to get the food gathered, stored and distributed. When Jeff arrived, they had 1880 lbs of food on pallets that needed to be unpacked and boxed up for 32 families. Each of the 32 families received sweet corn, potatoes, onions, peppers, and lettuce, a frozen turkey, three loaves of assorted bread, boxed and canned goods as well as a box full of juice. Jeff said that they had 30 minutes to prepare the boxes before people started arriving to pick up their food. Since our food pantry has limited hours the families that received the food were so grateful for the amount of food and the variety that they were given. They thanked Michele and the workers repeatedly.
Jeff presents Michele with a much needed freezer for the food pantry.
When Jeff came back from the food pantry he was compelled to share his experience with everyone. The food pantry is in the basement of a church, with several flights of stairs, so it takes about 15 to 20 hours a month for volunteers to help. They have limited space with storage shelves and two freezers. While Jeff was helping unload the truck he noticed that they didn’t have enough freezer space. Michele carried the extra back up the stairs and to a different church for storage. When Frontline Specialist Holly Schlenker heard that the food pantry had a need for freezer space, she immediately went to work on finding a solution. She did some research, picked out the right one and then Choice Financial purchased the additional freezer for the food pantry. Michele was overwhelmed and truly grateful for the donation.
Currently the food pantry serves six communities, which include Ellendale, Geulph, Forbes, Monango, Fullerton, and Frederick and reaches about 360 families in a year and includes around 340 children. Michele volunteers about 10 to 15 hours a month to this cause. The pantry is open by appointment only, and once every month for commodities.