Kristen and Jay Petroff were among the first people to walk into Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Abington Saturday morning. Both were holding paper shopping bags. The contents? Everything from pasta to toothpaste.
“Where’s Speegs?” Kristen said.
“Speegs” (Abington Commissioner John Spiegelman) was in the Inter-Faith Housing Alliance’s pantry, which is housed in the second floor — a bit farther into the church. He was running a food drive in conjunction with the Abington Rockledge Democratic Committee and Girl Scout Troop 780, out of Willow Grove.
By 10 a.m., the cupboard had an extra 70 bags of food; at 10:45 a.m. Spiegelman said, “We’re rocking past 100 bags now!”
Fifty of those bags were dropped off at Spiegelman’s residence. The commissioner said he reached out to residents regarding the food drive through the usual social media.
“Donating is what we do … It’s what we do. We do what ‘Speegs’ says,” Kristen Petroff said.
Inter-Faith Housing Alliance food pantry coordinator Rebecca Kelly, a Cheltenham resident, was helping to organize the new food in the church, along with Spiegelman and members of the Girl Scout troop. The pantry gets donations each month from residents, schools, and churches and synagogues, but food drives are particularly helpful, she said — especially since the pantry had a record amount of requests last December.
Many of the families that benefit from the pantry live in Willow Grove and Roslyn — as they are within walking distance of the church — but Kelly said people have also come from Glenside and Hatboro.
January was a busy month for the pantry as well. It saw more than 100 requests for food.
And even though there were more than 100 requests — which helped more than 200 people — Kelly said some people don’t know that Abington has a problem when it comes to hunger.
“You can drive around and never think poverty exists here,” Kelly said. “People are sometimes surprised by the need. People here have cell phones and cars, but sometimes their bills aren't getting paid. They need help."
Clare Davis, leader of Girl Scout Troop 780, out of Willow Grove, said her troop is aware of the local need for food and added that the troop participates in several community activities each year.
“Anytime anyone needs assistance, we try to do what we can,” Davis said. “And we try to keep it local. I’ve always liked the phrase, ‘Think globally, act locally.’ You never know, it could be your neighbor who is in need.”
Kelly said the Inter-Faith Housing Alliance Pantry is open Monday through Friday. Those requesting food must pick up the food in person. For more information call the 215-885-2234; or visit www.i-fha.org.