Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 21, 2013

Williamsburg food pantry needs help

TRAVERSE CITY — When gas climbs close to $4 a gallon, Maureen Robinson and her husband run short of money for food.

Thanks to the Acme Christian Thrift Store & Food Pantry, they have enough to eat.

“Without it, we’d have a very difficult time making ends meet," she said.

Now the Williamsburg food pantry has run short of money.

“It’s a financial thing, but it’s also a great religious and moral issue of how much we can afford to give and still stay in business,” said Larry Avery.

Avery is the board secretary of the nonprofit thrift store and pantry, created in 2002 by several churches.

The pantry relies on grants, donations, and thrift store revenues, but is running $1,000 a week short at its current giving level. At that rate, it would have to close in six months, begging the question of whether to give less, Avery said.

The pantry moved into a larger space on M-72 last year to meet the growing number of needy families in the Acme area. It helped 3,554 families last year, about 400 more than 2011, said Carol Hockin, operations director.

"There are just a lot who are underemployed or on disability. They don’t have enough to make it."

Robinson is one of them. She hasn't worked as a cashier since 2009, sidelined by fibromyalgia and arthritis. She's awaiting word on if and when she might qualify for disability. Her husband now has a job at a local casino, but bills piled up when both were jobless.

“We can go to the pantry twice a month,” she said.

Board members are looking at their options to confront the financial shortfall. They may expand the thrift store, for example, so it can sell bigger ticket items, he said.

The pantry used to operate out of a 1,950-square-foot building on U.S. 31 North, where it was "bursting at the seams" and unable to help the growing number of needy families, said Gini Claudepierre, board member.

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