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Finding Hope in the Pantry

In 2014 I went through a traumatic separation from my partner. Besides the physical and emotional healing that I needed to work through, I found myself with so many bills – one of which would have left myself and my kids with no electricity if it went unpaid. I had no phone, limited cash and three kids that were eating the same meal every night, and had one sandwich and a piece of fruit for school.

I saw myself as a huge failure. When I finally opened up about how bad my situation was to a friend, she informed me of a community food pantry that had started in Helensburgh.

I went reluctantly, but when I saw it was at a church, I took one step in and ran out again. I was a mess, and I was in no place to be spoken to about God, which is what I thought was going to happen.

Then I was greeted by a couple who said they were the pastors of the church. They invited me in and to my surprise, I wasn’t preached to. I was only asked the basic questions needed for the Community Pantry member form.

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What was given to me was an abundance of fruit, vegetables and bread, plus a cup of coffee and the comfort and assurance that if I ever needed more support, all I needed to do was ask. Five years have passed and through using the food pantry I have built friendships and have never had to worry that I wouldn’t have food for my kids. With food prices rising all the time, the small amount that I spend at the community pantry cuts a huge amount off my shopping bill, allowing me to set aside more money for bills and other expenses.

I’ve had plenty of conversations in our local community about the 2508 Hope Community Pantry and I have discovered that while many people know about the pantry, they won’t use it, even though they would be eligible and it would help them so much. Some are too embarrassed, some are worried about being preached to, some think that because they have a job, they won’t be eligible.

This is the reason I have decided to publicly share my story. I want people to know that whatever your circumstances if you are struggling financially, the 2508 Hope Community Pantry is available to you.

Yes, the pantry is held at Hope church. Yes, it is run by volunteers who attend church (for some, they give back through the pantry because they themselves have had to use it.)

Yes, your personal information is kept confidential. Yes, you will be given a warm welcome and respect. No, you do not have to attend church to use the pantry. No, you will not be spoken to about God unless you initiate it.

I have found the pantry to be such a blessing and it has opened so many doors for my family. For those that know me, and for those that don’t me, I now currently attend Hope Church, but I made that decision on my own, just as I did to write this article.

By Tracy Campbell
First published in 2508 District News

Hope Community Pantry is located at 3/23 Cemetery Road Helensburgh and operates every Friday during school terms from 12noon until 2pm. It’s a drop-in-service offering a light lunch and a cuppa in a warm, friendly environment. Members pay a small fee (between $5 and $9) to access a range of supermarket items that supplement their weekly grocery shop, as well as free staples such as bread, fruit and vegetables. 

For more info visit https://hopechurch2508.org.au/our-services/hope-community-pantry

Pulse 94.1 is dedicated to speaking life through word and song to the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and beyond, if you have a “good news” story please email it to pat@pulse941.com.au so we can share it.

Hope Community Pantry