No Child Goes Hungry (NCGH) is pleased to provide a $900 donation to the Golden Strip Little Free Pantry group to fund the building and initial stocking of three little free pantries in Simpsonville, Mauldin, and Fountain Inn, South Carolina. Sheri Kijsamnong, a local Simpsonville resident, is leading the initiative. She is passionate about serving her fellow community members in the Golden Strip, the communities along Interstate 385 in Greenville County, South Carolina.
At the core of Kijsamnong’s project are herself, her ten-year-old granddaughter, Dakota, and a local teenager, Zach, who helps to build the pantries. Her first little free pantry project started as a goal to accomplish a specific vision: help her community.
When we began planning our first pantry, we had no clue where we would put it or if anyone would join our group and help us maintain it outside of our friends and families,” said Kijsamnong. “We just took a leap of faith and told ourselves, if we build it, they will come! Now we are 420 members strong after one month, and according to the fire department that hosts our first pantry in Simpsonville, at least a few hundred people go to the pantry for food every week.”
Kijsamnong has been strategically planning the location of her pantries to maximize convenience and access to those in need.
We have partnered with the Canebrake Fire Station in Fountain Inn to place a pantry on the lawn of their new fire station because people have been traveling the seven miles from Fountain Inn to Simpsonville to access our local pantry,” said Kijsamnong. “The grant from No Child Goes Hungry is going to be such a blessing to that community. Our group is so very thankful to No Child Goes Hungry for helping us bring this movement forward. We have been so very blessed along this journey and have witnessed first-hand what a positive impact to our community these pantries are making.”
For Kijsamnong, the quest to support those in need in her community will not stop with the completion of the three newest pantries.
We would like to build six more pantries between Fountain Inn and Greenville County over the next few months,” said Kijsamnong. “That way, we’ll have all the Golden Strip covered. Many people are willing to steward and keep these pantries stocked daily. It is such a huge success in our quest to stop hunger in our community as so many people patron these pantries every day.”
Dakota shares her grandmother’s humanitarianism and her innovative spirit.
Dakota has saved her allowance ever since we started the pantry project so that she can build a pet pantry,” said Kijsamnong. To help Dakota reach her goal, NCGH donated an additional $300 to the creation of her little free pet pantry. “We are so grateful to No Child Goes Hungry for supporting Dakota’s vision. We have asked the children in our community to help Dakota be the pantry’s stewards and keep it stocked so that it belongs to the children and the pets in our community.”
In addition to her pet pantry, Kijsamnong says that her granddaughter has ideas for pantries stocked with children’s toys and even coats and blankets by winter.
It has been a game-changer for her and her friends being a part of helping their neighbors in just a small way and knowing that they too can make a difference. I hope she inspires other young people and shows them that anyone of any age can make a difference in the fight against hunger.”
Kijsamnong has become a fervent proponent of the little free pantry movement. Her message to anyone who fears that the issue of hunger is too large to make an impact is simple: anyone can make a difference.
We are encouraging others to build and start pantries,” said Kijsamnong. “We tell them if just me, a teenager, and a 10-year old can do it, they can too.”
“Sheri, Zach, and Dakota’s story is so powerful and moving,” said No Child Goes Hungry Founder and Director Kären Rasmussen. “They are proof that anyone of any age can make a huge difference in the battle against hunger. I am inspired by their passion and creativity and humbled to be part of their mission to support those in need in Greenville County.”
For more on Golden Strip Little Free Pantry project, read this story from WSPA 7 News.
To learn how NCGH can help support your local hunger advocacy initiative, contact us today.