OGDENSBURG Volunteers are hoping a new food pantry in the city will help alleviate hunger in the north country.
The food pantry has existed for more than 20 years, but on Tuesday, Marys Food Pantry at St. Johns Episcopal Church, 500 Caroline St., will open its doors to the public for the first time.
Previously, those who needed assistance were served on a case-by-case basis by Starfish Ministries, volunteer Donna M. Burdick said.
We know that there is a big need out there right now, Mrs. Burdick said Friday. We have a few people that come in who have run out of unemployment.
The pantry will be open every fourth Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon. Parish volunteers hope to extend its hours of operation to twice monthly.
Food stamps tend to run out by the end of the month, but there are still people who need groceries, Mrs. Burdick said.
The pantry has served four families with as many as 10 members per family, but Mrs. Burdick said it now is ready to welcome more.
The pantry will provide nonperishable items as well as fresh food such as bread and milk that should feed families for up to a week. The pantry will provide Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets.
It also will provide personal care and cleaning items.
The pantry is funded and stocked through donations from parishioners. The parish usually also collects about $1,000 from the annual Ogdensburg Harvest Run/Walk, Mrs. Burdick said.
Marys Food Pantry was named after former parishioner Mary S. Towe. Mrs. Towe, a lifelong resident of Ogdensburg, dedicated her life to public service. She worked for the St. Lawrence County Probation Office, the Ogdensburg City School District and the Ogdensburg Public Library. She was a member of St. Johns until her death in 2007 at the age of 71.
It was her personal goal and ministry to feed the needy, Ms. Burdick said.
The pantry has five volunteers. It serves those who are not members of the church as well, Mrs. Burdick said.
We open our doors to anyone in need, she said.
Volunteers hope to soon install a freezer and shelving units in the parish hall.
We want to make ourselves available to everyone, especially the elderly out there, Mrs. Burdick said. We know there are some that forgo their medicine for food or their food for medicine. We want them to know there is help available for them.