College student creates 'little free pantry' for Pontiac community

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Zharia Terry can’t wait to launch her latest project; a cute little cupboard she calls the little free pantry. 

“I had seen this great idea to start these pantries and it worked so well in other neighborhoods so I knew that it would be beneficial in my community,” Terry said. 

Zharia is originally from Pontiac, and now a senior at Michigan State studying human biology. She wants to eventually be a family physician, but for now, she just wants to make a difference in her hometown.

She knows a lot of people are struggling to get by, so she’s filling the pantry to help those in need. 

“Non-perishable foods, boxed foods, hygienic products, hand sanitizers, band aids, soap. It’s not just food its anything people could use, anything down to gloves and umbrellas,” she said.

It’s a lot like the little free libraries that have been popping up in communities, take a book, leave a book, only it’s a pantry and its home will be outside the Pontiac Public library. 

“I thought that the little free pantry was in line with our values and what we wanted to do so it will be over here in our park,” Devan Green said, director at the Pontiac Public Library.

The Pontiac park is on Mill street between Water and Pike and they are currently accepting donations at the library to stock the pantry for the weeks and months to come.

“A lot of people might think that’s it’s just for homeless people, but its open for everyone even people that are donating today maybe tomorrow they need the pantry so it’s for everyone in the community, everyone in other communities it’s open for anyone who needs the merchandise in there,” Terry said.

It’s also an opportunity for everyone to make a difference, like Zharia.

She’s a really good person, very selfless and just wanted to do this and wanted to see people helped by it,” Green said.

“This is a time for neighbors to help neighbors, that neighbor involvement is crucial for this to succeed,” Terry said. 

Zharia is hoping for so much success that more people will host little free pantries in their neighborhood.

“We might start with one for the library but then people can make more in their neighborhood so then there will be more little free pantries, all around the city,” she said.