The Anne Arundel County Public Library system opened its first-ever community pantry to benefit residents and the organizations that serve vulnerable families.
The pantry, which will be open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, will offer diapers, wipes and menstrual products. The Container Store opened a new location at Westfield Annapolis in May, set up and organized the space as part of its community service program.
The library is partnering with Anne Arundel County government and Social Services.
One in three families struggles with diaper needs with the average family spending $80 a month per baby on diapers which cannot be obtained with food stamps. Many pop-up pantries, set up during the pandemic, struggle to receive enough diapers to address the need, said Christine Feldmann, the library spokeswoman.
Naya Hall, Severn Resident, was picking up items from the pantry for her grandkids on Saturday.
“It is wonderful and beautiful and I came here to get my grandkids some help,” Hall said. “It is a relief and I know it will help. I am excited about this service, it can help my family and a lot of others.”
Feldmann said a lot of families are still struggling from the pandemic.
“We see the need out there and they come into the library and this pantry was born out of necessity,” Feldmann said. “This would be phenomenal to have at other libraries.”
The library adapts to the needs of the community and Feldmann sees this pantry doing the same in the future.
“This library is a way to show how they have changed, we are here to provide what people need,” Feldmann said. “It is heartwarming to see people reach out to help their neighbors and we are one big family in this county.”
Sen. Sarah Elfreth, Delegates Shaneka Henson, Dana Jones, Anne Arundel County Council member Lisa Rodvien and Annapolis alderwoman of ward 3, Rhonda Pindell Charles presented citations to the library Saturday and read some books during storytime.
Henson was proud to see the library reimagine itself as a community partner, this pantry is a phenomenal addition.
“This makes me proud of the community members who have stepped up to donate,” Henson said. “Not only will families have their educational needs met but their physical needs as well.”
During the last session of the Maryland General Assembly, Jones spearheaded a bill that allows a tax deduction for those who donate diapers. The bill passed and was signed into law. There are no federal or state services that can pay or help assist buy diapers, Jones said.
“This was critical and the library has been understanding our family for 100 years and during the pandemic the need for diapers shined bright,” Jones said. “Diapers and wipes are the first things to run out at pantries, we want to help kids in need.”
Seeing residents donate to the pantry made Jones tear up. “It is gorgeous in this library and this place is helping families, it is more than just a place where you can get books,” she said.
Latest Anne Arundel County
Residents interested in donating to the pantry can drop off items at the library, Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An Amazon wishlist is also available for donors who can’t get to the library.