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Food pantry will open Tuesday at St. John’s Church, Ogdensburg

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OGDENSBURG – Volunteers are hoping a new food pantry in Ogdensburg will help alleviate hunger in the north country.

The food pantry has existed for over 20 years, but on Tuesday, Mary’s Food Pantry at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 500 Caroline St., will open its doors to the public for the first time.

Previously, those who needed assistance were served on a case-by-case basis by Starfish Ministries, volunteer Donna M. Burdick said.

“We know that there is a big need out there right now,” Mrs. Burdick said Friday. “We have a few of people that come in who have run out of unemployment.”

The pantry will be open every fourth Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon. Parish volunteers hope to extend its hours of operation to twice monthly.

“Food stamps tend to run out by the end of the month, but there are still people who need groceries,” Mrs. Burdick said.

The pantry has served four families with as many as 10 members per family, but Mrs. Burdick says it is now ready to welcome more.

The pantry will provide nonperishable items as well as fresh food such as bread and milk that should feed families for up to a week. The pantry will provide Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets.

The pantry will also provide personal care and cleaning items.

“You can’t always get those if you are on a limited budget,” she said.

The pantry is funded and stocked through donations from its parishioners. The parish usually also collects about $1,000 from the annual Ogdensburg Harvest Run/Walk, Mrs. Burdick said.

Mary’s Food Pantry was named after former parishioner Mary S. Towe. Mrs. Towe, a lifelong resident of Ogdensburg, dedicated her life to public service. She worked for St. Lawrence County Probation Office, the Ogdensburg City School District, and Ogdensburg Public Library. She was a member of St. John’s until her death in 2007 at the age of 71.

“She was a very active member of St. John’s,” Ms. Burdick said. “It was her personal goal and ministry to feed the needy.”

The pantry currently has five volunteers.

The pantry serves those who are not members of the church, Mrs. Burdick said.

“We open our doors to anyone in need,” she said. “Anyone is welcome to walk in our Parish Hall door and receive a bag or box of food.”

Volunteers hope to install a freezer and shelving units in the Parish Hall in the coming months.

“We want to make ourselves available to everyone, especially the elderly out there,” Mrs. Burdick said. “We know there are some that forgo their medicine for food or their food for medicine. We want them to know there is help available for them.”

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