St. Paul's Episcopal Church establishes a 'Little Free Pantry'

Published on Thursday, 8 July 2021 12:07


SOUTHINGTON – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has established a “Little Free Pantry” at 145 Main St. People can visit at any hour to either donate non-perishable food, personal hygiene items, and paper goods or take what they need.

The “Little Free Pantry” box was installed July 1, with the motto “Give what you can, take what you need.” Parishioner Kate Palinkos spearheaded the idea and other parishioners with skills in carpentry and painting helped to set it up.

There will be a ceremony held July 27 at 6 p.m. to officially celebrate its opening, but Rev. Helena Martin of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church said that it is already fully stocked thanks to generous donors.

“The response has been amazing and so heartening,’ said Martin. “We weren’t expecting the outpouring of donations that we received. There’s already a lot of support and excitement for it.”

Martin said that Palinkos, a recent college graduate that grew up attending the parish, came up with the idea last November. She had been watching an online sermon with Rt. Rev. Dr. Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. There, Ahrens spoke about Hartford’s “Bags of Love” charity, which was started by nine-year-old Tiernan Cabot. Palinkos was inspired and began organizing the Little Free Pantry at St. Paul’, stating “This is a way for us to look out for each other.”

“With the support of the entire Southington community, the LFP will hopefully sustain itself: when people are able to donate, they will, and others will benefit from using those items,” said Palinkos. “The pantry is located prominently in the St. Paul’s driveway for easy access. The church is a landmark in town-for their former pumpkin patch, being the first location of Bread for Life, for people using their parking lot as a turnaround to get to the post office, or just as the little brown church with the red doors. Thus, the pantry is in a central, accessible location.”

Martin said that Palinkos had told her that she was thinking of ways to combat the food insecurity that had been highlighted by the pandemic. According to the CT Food Bank, food insecurity was predicted to rise 28% due to the pandemic-and as many as 1 in 4 children in Connecticut would be at risk.

“It definitely makes me feel proud of what’s happening at the parish,” said Martin. “I especially love that this was done by one of our young adults in their 20s. There’s this narrative that young people hate church and don’t care about God or other people. I’m in my 30s and it’s not true. Those of us that are driven by faith want to do things to make the world better and go out of our way to make it happen.”

Martin herself is new to the parish, having started Sept. 2020. She said that it stood out to her, even during online programs, how “warm” the community was and how eager they were to embrace her and get to know her.

On Tuesday, July 27, St. Paul’s will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally commission their “Little Free Pantry.” Bishop Ahrens will bless the pantry. All are invited to join them for this event. Martin said the St. Paul’s community hopes the pantry will be a way for “neighbors to help neighbors” in town.

“We envision our Little Free Pantry complementing the other pantry and food services in Southington, such as Southington Community Services, the YMCA and Bread For Life,” said Martin. “It’s a little something to fill in those unexpected gaps that arise in people’s lives. It’s a resource that’s there and you don’t have to prove you’re in dire straits to use it. You just have to have a need. The Little Free Pantry will assist those who need food as an emergency or at the last minute. It will be open 24/7 for people to swing by and put something in or take something out.”

For more information, visit or call 860-628-8486.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Southington Herald on Thursday, 8 July 2021 12:07. Updated: Thursday, 8 July 2021 12:10.