Scout offers pantry to those in need in Milledgeville

MILLEDGEVILLE -- People in Milledgeville dealing with food insecurity can always visit the Helping Hands Food Pantry, but now there is another option just a block away.

On the steps of the United Methodist Church is an outdoor food pantry, stocked with jars of applesauce, boxes of mac and cheese, some Hamburger Helper, peanut butter, anything a family might need to put dinner on the table when times are tough.

The pantry is the brainchild of Cameron Mickelson, a member of the Milledgeville Boy Scout Troop 55, who put it together as his Eagle Scout project.

“You just come and take what you need and leave what you can,” Mickelson said. “That’s what the motto is.”

While the local food pantry has limited hours, the outdoor pantry at the church is always open.

While a couple shelves are packed with food, one shelf has some room. That’s where members of the community come in.

“It’s just any random food item that anyone would need for a last-minute meal,” he said. “This is something that they can come and take food when they really need it, and people can come and drop canned goods and dry goods.”

Mickelson, now a freshman at Milledgeville High School, has been involved in scouts since he was in second grade. He was approached by Joel McClellan, the pastor at the United Methodist Church, which sponsors the troop, about a project that would help the community. Mickelson was able to provide that, finding the plans from a similar project constructed by someone in Joliet.

“He was putting these together out of his garage,” Mickelson said. “He put them out online for people to make. Our pastor is also the pastor at the Methodist Church in Coleta, and they have one of these, so he liked the idea.”

McClellan first approached Mickelson about the project in February. COVID-19 paused the project for a bit, but work soon started up again, using building materials which were either donated or bought at Menards. They worked an hour a day for two-and-a-half to three months.