Power of Prayer: Rose City Pantry
What’s inside this little box has become a way to show others they’re loved and cared for.
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Rose City Pantry, housed in a little red box outside the Tyler Public Library in downtown, is connecting people from all walks of life.
While the library is known as a place to feed the mind through reading, many who stop by are also picking up the most basic form of nourishment.
“It does help a lot of people who come through here. You know, they’re in need too.”
For some, a bag of crackers or a can of tuna might be their only meal of the day. Kwon Baunchand says he’s always mindful of the extra help.
“Every time I go up to the box, I usually say, you know, like a prayer. I’m thankful. And bless those who put those in there. You know, every chance I get. Because I do know that like, it doesn’t have to be like that.”
This box of blessings started in 2020 with an answered prayer. Organizer Allison Chaumont was discerning a call to serve others as part of a Lenten reflection.
“I would be praying, like, ‘Should I do this Lord or this?’ And he kept pushing back to, ‘No, you just feed the people. Feed my people.’”
Over the next year Chaumont worked to get approval from the City of Tyler to place the box under the awning outside the public library and recruited help from colleagues at the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors, who also provided the initial financial support for the project.
“The reason we started the Rose City Pantry is because there is a need in our community,” said Kelly Raulston of the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors. “Whether people have a home or do not have a home, people in our community go to bed hungry. And we want to do our part to help people with their food needs.”
She’s also assembled a team of volunteers to stock the pantry with donation every day.
From friends, fellow moms, to professional connections, they’re putting faith into action.
Lauren Busby even brings her kids along to fill the shelves. One-year-old Elle accompanied her on their latest visit to the pantry.
“We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is exactly what he’s talking about when he says go, serve, do. Love God and love others.”
At times the pantry seems to get as much traffic as the library’s book return located just feet away.
This only highlights the great need the Rose City pantry aims to address. According to data from Feeding America, nearly 33-thousand people in Smith County face food insecurity.
So the pantry’s fruit cups, Vienna sausages, and canned green beans might be the ‘manna from heaven’ satisfying the hungry.
Allison Saucedo, a small business owner, noticed the pantry and started donating food on a regular basis. She bumped into Chaumont at the box one day and made the introduction. Saucedo, her husband, and children are among the volunteers who help keep it stocked.
“You know, it says in the bible, ‘If your brother asks for food, you know, give them food. If they ask for shelter, give them shelter. You know, and like I said, the foundation is our Father and he does so much for us, so why not pass on that blessing to someone else.”
That invitation to serve is painted right on the door. It reads, “Take what you need. Give what you can.”
Chamont says she often sees generosity coming from the same people the pantry serves. She recalled an occasion where a patron offered her juice boxes that she had in her bags.
“The lady with all her worldly possessions in two suitcases, she was giving to the pantry. So the impact is incredible. And you get to see it. You get to actually experience helping others.”
Stable housing hasn’t always been available to Baunchand, who says his stops at the library now fill him with hope.
“I don’t know if the people who put the food in there -- they may not hear it enough -- it’s more of a blessing than it is anything else.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Rose City Pantry can place non-perishable foods inside the box, which is accessible 24 hours a day. Chaumont says canned foods with a pop-top are preferred. Bottles of water, high-protein foods, snack crackers, and other essentials are welcomed.
Community groups and businesses are also welcome to partner with the project. For more information about the Rose City Pantry, visit their Facebook page here.
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