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White Rock ‘free pantry’ reduced to pile of rubble

‘It’s sad that somebody was in that state of mind’
A free pantry set up in uptown White Rock was found in pieces Tuesday (March 15, 2022). (White Rock Pantry Project Facebook photo)

Destruction Tuesday (March 15) of a free pantry that was set up in White Rock’s uptown core some three months ago for “people who need a little help” was disheartening, says an advocate of community supports for those on the Semiahmoo Peninsula who are struggling with homelessness.

“It makes you sad and it makes you wonder… why it happened,” said Cheryl Lightowlers, a member of the Peninsula Homeless to Housing committee.

“It was just this gentle, little creative idea. That kind of place that people took care of it and you didn’t even know that people took care of it.”

Lightowlers said the idea for the pantry came from Peninsula United Church member Elizabeth Winkler, and that city permission had been granted to erect it in the parking lot at the corner of Russell Avenue and Johnston Road – the same lot used for White Rock Rotary’s ‘Feed My City’ effort, in which lunches are distributed free of charge to those who turn out.

READ MORE: White Rock Rotary lunch program funds dwindling

It had been well-received, she said, noting that sundry food items – and even some for pets – were added to, and picked up from, the pantry’s shelves from the get-go. Some items were provided by Sources White Rock South Surrey Food Bank, she added.

White paint on the pantry’s drawer outlined the simple concept: “Take What U Need, Leave What U Can.”

It appears that whoever effected Tuesday’s damage wasn’t angry about it being empty, Lightowlers said, noting a box of crackers and a container of juice were found amongst the rubble.

But she is surprised that no one saw the vandalism take place. It happened twice, in broad daylight, in the space of around 30 minutes, she said.

“It must’ve been intact at 12-ish,” Lightowlers said, explaining that she had seen the pantry without damage at 11:20 a.m., and doesn’t believe whoever did it would have gone unnoticed when the lunch-hour distribution was underway.

However, “in that next hour, we got two reports of damage.”

“How did somebody do that two times and nobody saw?”

Lightowlers said police attended the scene, and while the pantry was “completely trashed,” she expects the initiative will be revived.

“You don’t give up,” she said. “It’s sad that somebody was in that state of mind.

“We need to ask, why would that happen, and acknowledge we need these kind of supports.”
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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