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Residents hope Little Free Pantries will help provide for, inspire Burbank community

Little White Chapel office manager Annette Graziani
Little White Chapel office manager Annette Graziani carries a load of nonperishables to fill the Little Free Pantry in front of the church in Burbank on Tuesday. Graziani fills the pantry several times a day and said the general public can also donate items for it.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

In front of the Little White Chapel in Burbank is a cupboard that looks like a replica of the church behind it.

It’s white with green accents, just like the house of worship at 1711 N. Avon St., but upon closer look at the fixture, one will find that it’s a pantry — called a Little Free Pantry — stocked with nonperishable food items and toiletries, and they’re free to anyone who needs them.

Annette Graziani, office manager at the Little White Chapel, spent the morning this past Tuesday restocking the pantry. She had an armful of goods — small cereal boxes, canned soups and instant ramen — and placed them inside for someone to take.

“I go out there two or three times a day to fill it up,” Graziani said. “Some days, not as many people take things, but some days, it’s entirely cleaned out more than once a day.”

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Little Free Pantries, a project started by Jessica McClard of Fayetteville, Ark., in 2016, is a movement similar to Little Free Libraries. However, instead of books there’s food and other goods that those less-fortunate may not be able to afford, according to the Little Free Pantry website.

There is another free pantry in Burbank outside the South Hills Church at 222 S. Victory Blvd.

“There are a lot of people in our community who are wondering where their rent is going to come from next month,” Graziani said. “So having a little something to eat is a good thing.”

The pantry in front of the Little White Chapel was built and installed by Burbank resident Adam Karell, whose family lives near the church.

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He and his wife, Monica, had built their own Little Free Library in front of their house, but his wife wanted to do something more.

As work and other obligations got in the way, Adam Karell said the project to build a pantry was put on the back burner, but he eventually had the time to build the fixture, and it was a surprise birthday gift for his wife.

“I looked around for a place to put the pantry and the Little White Chapel was near our house, so I reached out to them,” Adam Karell said. “I figured a church would probably say ‘yes’ and they did.”

Adam Karell said he and his wife wanted to set a good example for their 5-year-old daughter as well as the community.

Adam Karell and his wife filled the pantry to the brim after it was installed, and in a matter of days, it was empty.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “You live in a Burbank bubble where most people are fine, but there’s a real need out there.”

After eight months of being available to the public, both Adam Karell and Graziani said the pantry has been a great success.

Not only have people been taking what they need from the fixture, but residents have stopped by to leave goods for the next people in need.

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Adam Karell said he is happy that residents in his community are benefiting from using the pantry, and he hopes that those who use it or see it are inspired to do good elsewhere.

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