New food pantry to be unveiled in downtown Swartz Creek

SWARTZ CREEK — The H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Eat) Food Pantry will make its debut in Swartz Creek on Saturday.

A grand opening event is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the back lot at Centerpiece Plaza, 8048 Miller Road (across from Holland Square).

Organizers will provide hot dogs and popcorn, and there will be give-aways. Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted to help stock the pantry.

The pantry consists of a large, blue structure that bears a striking resemblance to the TARDIS from Dr. Who. Pantry items will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The idea came from the gentleman who put a pantry in Genesee,” said Shayla Merinsky, a co-organizer. “Michelle Bauserman started thinking about how she could serve and help out our community. She knew there were a couple of pantries; however, there were only certain times they were available.”

Bauserman asked others to help with her vision, and Merinsky and Valorie Juratich stepped up.

First, the women had to find a location downtown. Then, they had to figure out how to build the self-serve pantry. Bauserman contacted some downtown business owners, who pointed her in the direction of plaza owner Dave Kunz, Merinsky said.

“When she spoke to him, he shared he wanted a library, and would love to see a community garden, and was in agreement to have this pantry put on his property, and he would donate the wood to build it,” she said.

It was Kunz’s idea to make the pantry look like the TARDIS, as he and his daughter are big fans of Dr. Who, Merinsky explained.

Rick Gruno offered to donate his time to build the pantry.

“He literally spent hours making this beautiful pantry,” Merinsky said.

Bauserman said the pantry is a labor of love.

“In my career, I saw many families that had hard times, and it was hard to find resources for them,” she said. “There were many times I just went out and bought things for them because they were in need, or they were too proud to ask for help.

“The pantry is a dream come true for me. It’s an open door to anyone. There are no limits. You can give or take as needed. This is a safe place to just go and no one is asking questions.”