GREAT FALLS — Nowadays, just about everybody has heard of little free libraries. The small boxes are increasingly common in public places, such as parks, across the country. The idea is simple - the boxes are filled with books that anyone can take. You take a book, read it, and then either put the book back or replace it with another book.
Now an effort is underway in Great Falls to create what are essentially little free food pantries. "We are trying to create a box for pantry items or toiletries,” said Janetta Poitra, founder of the Facebook group “Great Falls Montana, Little Blessing Box Initiative."
Poitra started the Facebook group May 31 and by June 4, the group had more than 80 members.
"I just want to give back to my community because my community has done so much for me to help me raise my family and to help me with what I needed when I needed it,” Poitra said.
Some members had offered suggestions about where the boxes should be or how items in the box should be advertised.
"Daily, more and more people come, more and more people comment, more and more people reach out to say 'Yeah, I can help with this, I can do this.' It's pretty amazing how much the community is already invested in this,” Poitra said.
Poitra wanted to put up the first box in the Parkdale area and was hopeful it would be up by the end of the summer.
The boxes will work like the little free libraries. Take what you need and then put something back if and when you can.
“Stuff like pasta noodles, pasta sauce, really whatever is in a can,” Poitra said when asked what food items she might like to have in the boxes.
As for toiletries, she said toothbrushes and toilet paper would be good.
“I’m also hoping we can give back to the babies out there and put baby food, baby supplies (in the box.) Just really anything that can benefit all those families around here that are struggling right now,” Poitra said.
She expects to find out by June 7 if the city will allow her to put up a box. If and when approval is granted, and for any more boxes after that, she hoped to organize community building events for people to come together to help build the boxes.