Leighann Truesdale, 17, recently spent more than 100 hours designing and planning a Little Free Pantry to help people in need in the Eldersburg region. Her vision comes to life this weekend, as the pantry is unveiled at 10 a.m., Saturday, during a ceremony at the library, 6400 West Hemlock Drive.
Following the grand opening, the pantry will be open all day, every day, for anyone to use.
“The LFP offers a service for the community to engage in, whether by donating or by partaking of the donations,” said Nadine Rosendale, Eldersburg branch library manager. “You never know when food assistance may become a need. Folks can donate at anytime by putting nonperishable items directly into the pantry and folks can take what they need at any time, as well.”
The Little Free Pantry movement — a spin on the Little Free Library concept — was launched as a grassroots effort by an Arkansas woman in 2016 to help with community food insecurity. Since then, thousands of the pantries, containing food, personal care, and other needed items, have been created around the United States.
A Girl Scout Ambassador who lives in Sykesville, Truesdale will submit the Little Free Pantry project to Girl Scouts of Central Maryland as part of her quest to achieve the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award.
To attain the Gold Award, a Girl Scout must address the root cause of an issue and make a lasting impact in her community. She is required to investigate the issue, create a plan of action, present it, take action and educate others to leave a lasting impact, according to Girl Scouts of the USA. The Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award offered in Girl Scouts, and is awarded to fewer than 6% of Girl Scouts annually. About 1 million Girl Scouts have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent since 1916, according to the organization.
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Truesdale is a member of Girl Scout Troop 2946 and has now successfully completed the Gold Award requirements.
“After seeing my brother accomplish his Eagle Award [the highest award in Scouts BSA] a few years ago, I thought about trying to earn my Gold [Award],” Truesdale said. “My troop leader, Amy Landry ... gave me a lot of ideas to think about. The pantry was the one I felt the strongest about doing.”
Landry said Truesdale worked hard to secure donations for materials and identify community partners to make her project sustainable. In January, the project was supported by White Rock Independent Methodist Episcopal Church in Sykesville, which has committed to help Truesdale collect nonperishable foods to keep the pantry full.
“I am so excited for Leighann and so proud of her accomplishment. Every aspect of her project was well thought out and well organized,” Landry said. “LFP will offer an opportunity for each of us to help our neighbors by donating items and will help people facing hardships by giving them a place where they can stop at any time to pick up something they may need.”
Truesdale will graduate from Saint John’s Catholic Prep in Frederick in May and plans to attend the University of Alabama to study microbiology. She hopes that her food pantry will have a lasting effect on families in the Eldersburg and Sykesville communities.
“I am glad to be able to help the community [and] I am very excited to see it all put together and people being able to use it,” Truesdale said.
To learn more about Truesdale’s journey to complete this project, visit her blog at https://medium.com/@ltruesdale0123.