With Australia’s unemployment rate tipped to soar past 10% due to Covid-19, many people are finding themselves without the funds to purchase even basic goods like groceries and toilet paper. A real need to support our friends and neighbours who are struggling has risen.
This need inspired Chappy Beck and Chappy Steph, alongside the student services team at Murrumba State Secondary College, to build a community pantry out the front of their school.
“When restrictions started coming into place, our principal floated the idea of setting up some sort of community pantry – two hours later our team was down at Bunnings grabbing what we needed,” Chappy Beck recalls.
“The pantry itself is two sets of metal shelving we attached to the fence out the front of our school. We wanted it to be accessible even if the school was closed down by Covid-19.
“We only had one shelf to begin with, but after the first week we were receiving so many donations from the community that we had to set another one up!”
The pantry’s motto is a good explanation of how it functions: ‘give what you can, take what you need’. Members of the community are free to take whatever supplies they need – or donate goods to the pantry if they are in a position to do so.
“It’s got everything people need at the moment. Pet food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, non-perishable foods, basic pantry needs, snacks, breakfast foods – all sorts of things,” Chappy Beck says.
“We also have been handing out a lot of woolies and coles gift cards – so that families can buy the fresh food that isn’t always available at the community pantry.
“It came from a place of recognising that so many families were going through real hardships, with many suddenly losing jobs and finding themselves in need. It’s also a great opportunity for people to give and contribute to their community in this time.”
Leader of Learning for Student Services at the school, Kelly Klibbe, says the pantry has been a huge success.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Kelly says.
“Our staff in particular have really gotten on board. Over Easter, many of them used the money they’d typically spend on festivities to buy and donate supplies to the community pantry.
“They’re really invested in contributing to the local community – and this pantry gives them an outlet to do just that.”
With all the problems and issues that Covid-19 has brought up, Kelly says chaplains are critical.
“In terms of the role our chaplains are playing in this season – it’s vital,” Kelly says.
“It’s been challenging, especially not being able to be face-to-face with most kids, but having our chaplains here to be a support when and where needed has been incredible in these last couple of weeks, and will be really important as we move forward.”
Thank you for choosing to make a difference in the lives of others – visit suqld.org.au/donate for more ways to show your support.