Middletown residents pay it forward with new ‘Sharing Pantry’

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — A charitable idea from the internet has become a reality in Middletown.

About a year ago, resident Linda Osifat remembers coming across a social media post leading to the website www.littlefreepantry.org. The site promotes a concept in which communities offer a free-of-charge pantry stocked with basic necessities, including food and toiletries. People in need of something can take items, while others can leave items behind.

“I looked at that and I thought what a great idea to do for people in need,” said Osifat. “It is for people who maybe can’t make it from paycheck to paycheck. People who are struggling just that week.”

After a legal process that included approval from Middletown Borough Council, Osifat, along with friends Leslie Hughes, Shelly Sides and Christina Alterio started working on ideas. They obtained an antique dresser, which was refurbished by Raul Perez Jr. The dresser, dubbed The Sharing Pantry, was decorated with the slogan “Take What You Need, Leave What You Can.”

“We stocked it last week,” said Osifat. “We stock anything; non-perishable food, canned food, bread, water. I see a little of everything in there; oatmeal, all sorts of different kinds of pasta, Pop-Tarts. On the bottom shelf is toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and those basics.”

“That’s typical Middletown,” Mayor James Curry said of the project. “Our residents are creative. They come up with new ideas all the time. We want people to know that we support them.”

For security reasons, the pantry was placed on the front porch of the Middletown Police Department at 300 East Emaus Street.

“We wanted to pick a location that was highly accessible to the people in need, but also we wanted to protect it so that it wasn’t taken advantage of or vandalized,” added Curry.

While Osifat says the creation of The Sharing Pantry wasn’t inspired by any specific need in Middletown, she knows poverty exists, even for working individuals and families. She and Curry believe the concept will spread to other communities.

“We want to be that positive example,” said Curry. “It is unique and we hope other municipalities follow suit.”

Notices are posted inside the pantry indicating that items are donated by private civilians, and the borough does not monitor items that are taken or removed. The notice states that the borough does not assume any responsibility or liability for the items contained in the pantry, and those who participate in the exchange are doing so at their own risk.

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