“There’s a difference between having an idea and actually doing it.”
These are the words spoken by Elizabeth Sheehan, one of the five Sayville teens taking big steps to fighting food insecurity on Long Island.
Elizabeth and her friends Molly Brady, Fallon Santoro, Loghan McNamara and Courtney Thornton unveiled their “Little Free Pantry” in a ribbon-cutting ceremony today outside of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce house.
At the ceremony, the teens filled the pantry with food and were each presented with a certificate of excellence from the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce.
“It feels good to finally have it here and know that we’re helping the community the best way we can,” Courtney said.
Inspired by the community fridges seen popping up around New York City, the “Little Free Pantry” is a box filled with nonperishables that people can donate to or take from.
“We wanted somewhere people could go to and take food if they needed it,” Elizabeth said.
The food pantry can be found on the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce property at 175 N Main St., right next to Stop & Shop — providing the perfect opportunity for grocery shoppers to leave behind a gift from their carts.
“I know so many people who have gotten involved already,” Loghan said. “Everyone needs to help out one another. We started it, and we’d love to pass it down to our younger siblings.”
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Accessibility was a priority when choosing the location, the Sayville High School freshmen said, and this spot is in walking distance from the town and a nearby bus stop.
The spot allows privacy and can be driven up to.
Funding for the “Little Free Pantry” box were donated by former Community Ambulance chief and Sayville native Jamie Atkinson, along with dozens of other members of the community, as part of a GoFundMe effort.
Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Tyznar came forward to offer the chamber’s property as a home for the pantry.
“We really live in such a generous community,” Courtney said. “There were so many donations through the GoFundMe page that now we can have a lot more locations.”
Santoro says they already have their eye on the Sayville Library — located at 88 Greene Ave. — for the next “Little Free Pantry” location.
The Sayville pals first started their mission in the fall, and with the help of their community, their dream has finally become a reality.
But the work has only just begun.
Along with expanding, the Sayville teens have pledged to monitor the pantry to always make sure it’s full, and they hope the community joins in with them.
The Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a food drive at the “Little Free Pantry” on June 5.
“We were honored that they asked us to be their first location,” Tyznar said. “It’s incredible to think that five young ladies took the initiative and had enough empathy to know that what they have at home, others don’t have.”
Follow GreaterLongIsland.com to keep up with the Little Free Pantry’s expansion across Long Island.
Check out photos from the “Little Free Pantry” ceremony below.
Top: The Sayville teens posing in front of the “Little Free Pantry.”