A Seymour man with a vision of helping others by hosting a community food pantry box recently saw it become a reality with the help of a longtime friend.
Jeff Ellis and John Desender teamed up a few months ago to create a Good Samaritan food pantry box next to Ellis Jewelers, 404 E. 2nd St., Seymour.
“I got the idea when I saw an article posted on Facebook that really touched my heart,” said Ellis, owner of Ellis Jewelers. “It was about a man in New York that had a food pantry in his yard.”
Ellis said he wanted to do that in Seymour, so he sent the article to his friend, Desender, owner of Creative Concepts Building & Remodeling and Creative Concepts Kitchen & Bath Cabinetry, both in Seymour.
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“John is a carpenter, and I sent him the Facebook post on a Sunday,” Ellis said. “By that Thursday, he had the box built, and by Sunday night, I had it installed with the help of a couple of friends, and we stocked it up with food and supplies.”
Desender said he and Ellis had been friends for years, and when Ellis forwarded him the picture of the man in New York who had a food pantry box, Desender built one and surprised Ellis with it.
“People have already been contributing and dropping stuff in the box, and that’s what we want,” Desender said. “Right now, not many people know about this, but it has been nice to see people putting food in it and giving back.”
Desender said they don’t want people to abuse the program and would like for them to just take what they need because there are others in need, too.
“There are other communities throughout the nation that have done this, but Seymour is a unique community. There are good people here, so I’m not too worried about vandalism, and this box has not been vandalized,” Desender said.
“John and I have joined together on this outreach to tangibly show people the love of Christ,” Ellis said. “There are scriptures that say we’re not just to love in word but in deed also.”
The heart of the pantry box mission is to touch people’s lives and help people who are struggling and hungry, Ellis said.
“There is more than food available in the pantry,” he said. “We’re also stocking hygiene items, Bibles and lists of community resources that could be helpful to people.”
The Good Samaritan food pantry box has been up and running for just a couple of months to see how the response would be, Desender said.
“We’ve had other people already inquire about us building the boxes and putting them on their personal property,” he said. “One thing I’d like to acknowledge is these boxes cost about $189 to build, but my vendors are wanting to help.”
Polley Building Supply and Ace Hardware, both in Seymour, said they would help donate material to construct more boxes, Desender said.
“So I feel like they should get a shoutout because they are good people, and it’s good of them to donate,” he said. “If anybody feels inspired to have a pantry box built and placed in their yard, they can reach out to Jeff or myself, and we can build by request.”
Ellis said this is a way to have goodwill spread throughout the entire community and that he and Desender were not looking for attention.
“We are focused on people who are in need. That’s what it’s all about,” Ellis said. “For people who have abundance in their life and would like to give back, they can come and bring food into one of our stores or put it in the box.”
Ellis said his neighbors are excited about the food pantry, and they are going to work with Ellis and Desender to keep the Good Samaritan food pantry box filled every day.
“The pantry gets used every day, and my neighbor across the street is retired and takes care of her grandkids and loves to sit on the porch and watch people come to the pantry box and put food in,” Ellis said.
Cindy Brandt and Marie Brittain are two of Ellis’ neighbors that help restock the pantry box.
“I think it’s wonderful that there are people who come to the pantry at all hours of the night,” Brandt said. “We sit out here all the time and see the people who go there during the night and get stuff out.”
Brittain said she and Brandt have seen cars come by and stop at the pantry box for people to get out and fill it up, too.
“One night when I got home, Marie said she had seen some guys come through with bags and cleaned the pantry out, so we just went over and refilled it,” Brandt said. “I go over two nights a week to restock if it’s empty, and I’ll just bring over some things from my house.”
Ellis said there is a fenced-in area near the pantry box that serves as a storage place for pantry items, and he had seven keys made for the storage area.
“All of my neighbors have a key and are going to take turns coming over to refill the box with supplies,” Ellis said. “This way, they have an opportunity to share their heart in the outreach mission.”
The goal right now is to try to get the message out about the food pantry box so more people can be blessed, Ellis said.
“John and I worked together on this mission project to feed the hungry,” Ellis said. “We are looking forward to seeing the Good Samaritan food pantries at many different locations throughout our town.”
Desender said the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, Luke 10:25-37, teaches us how to have have mercy on others and show compassion, which is the mission of the pantry box.
“The Good Samaritan food pantry box won’t feed all of the hungry people in town, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Ellis said. “We would really appreciate prayer for this mission, as well, that’s so valuable.”
The news story that motivated Jeff Ellis to host a Good Samaritan pantry box:
People can help with the Good Samaritan pantry box in two ways.
1. Contact Jeff Ellis or John Desender to host a Good Samaritan food pantry on your property.
2. Donate food and hygiene items for the pantry box by dropping them off at Ellis Jewelers, 404 E. Second St., Seymour, or Creative Concepts Kitchen & Bath Cabinetry, 335 W. Brown St, Seymour.
Items needed: Canned and boxed food, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, Q-tips, disposable shavers and women’s personal items.
For information, call John Desender at 812-522-0204 or Jeff Ellis at 812-522-3228.