Eighteen months ago, Mia Platt wasn’t thinking there might be a global pandemic that would affect Charlotte. Mia was simply searching for a service project for her Girl Scout Silver Award. To earn the award, a scout must identify an issue she cares about and then, complete at least 50-hours towards helping solve the problem. Mia was inspired by the Little Free Libraries in Charlotte and she thought there were small needs in Charlotte that could be taken of as well. Instead of offering books, Mia’s imagined building a box that would offer food for people who might need it
Creating such a free-standing pantry first meant Mia had to learn something about woodworking. Her troop leader, Heather Ruckterstuhl, had a brother, Steven Wolf, who not only offered his carpentry expertise, he turned over his garage for Mia’s project. Working with fellow Scout, Emma Parks, Mia spent a long, hot sweaty summer of 2018 learning to build a Little Free Pantry.
Her Troop 2150 had also been helping South Tryon Community Methodist Church with their family ministry program. The church offers food and shelter to families throughout the year. A small congregation on the edge of the Brookhill neighborhood, the church was excited to welcome the girls’ Little Free Pantry. In September of 2018, their Little Free Pantry was finally finished and filled with nonperishable food and water. Over the past year, the troop re-stocked it even adding seasonal items like socks and gloves. Troop leader, Heather is also an assistant teacher at Park Road Montessori and the school donates snacks to the Pantry as well as the church program.
With the coronavirus arriving in Charlotte, Mia, who turned 17 on March 19, sees an even bigger use for her pantry. She knows those living in this neighborhood will now not only have food insecurity but other challenges brought on by this health crisis.
“People could put gloves, face masks, hand sanitizers as well as food in it,” Mia says.
Mia’s heart and idea for a pantry is actually a national movement based on the Little Free Libraries. The Little Free Pantry website lists hundreds across the United States from Seattle to Orlando. The national organization quotes Howard Zinn, “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world.”
Mia’s small act might just change our world during this crisis and you can help. If you have finished stockpiling your own shelves and want to keep Mia’s Little Free Pantry stocked, you can find it at 2516 South Tryon Street. Mia and Emma also built another Little Free Pantry and they are looking to find a home for it near Statesville Avenue. If you are working from home or staying at home and need a project, you can build and install your own Little Free Pantry with these plans.
At the bottom of her Pantry Mia hand painted a sign that reads “Take what you need. Leave what you can. Share what you will.”
In the coming weeks and months, we can change Charlotte if we all can share what we will.
Want to help? Take your nonperishable food donations to one of these two pantries or create one of your own!
- Find Mia’s Pantry: South Tryon Community Methodist Church, 2516 South Tryon Street
Groceries may be sent to 1227 E. Worthington Ave Charlotte, 28203 to be delivered to Mia’s pantry. Or email Mia’s troop firstname.lastname@example.org for contact info.
2. First Christian Church: 1200 East Boulevard
Pastor Jolin McElroy has turned their Little Free Library into a Little Free Pantry