WINDSOR, ONT. -- A local non-profit organization is helping people access essentials by opening a first of its kind community pantry.

“Anyone in the community, anyone who comes by can use it at any time,” says Taylor Gorick, founder of Project Hope and the Harrow Community Pantry. 

Open 24/7, the Harrow Community Pantry is located in the Harrow Arena parking lot. 

“If someone needs to put food on the table, they can walk in and no one needs to know they were here,” says Gorick. 

The Harrow Community Pantry is organized by Gorick who hopes the pantry will help reduce the stigma and is available for all to access. 

“I just so deeply hope that we are able to help people and make a difference with their worries and the struggles they go through just to get food,” says Gorick.

The pantry is stocked with fresh and non-perishable food items along with toiletries.

“We started accepting donations about two weeks ago for canned goods toiletries, any essentials including toilet paper, baby items, paper towel, all those things,” says Gorick. “We had individual drop off donations, groups drop off donations, our friend Aliya Jasey did her own campaign where she collected feminine hygiene products and toiletries and she collected almost 9,000 items and donated those. So we are well-stocked for that stuff.”

The 24/7 Harrow Community Pantry is free to the entire community. 

“Hopefully when people start to realize this is for all and not for just those in need, it will reduce some of the stigma and they will feel more comfortable accessing it,” says Gorick. 

“It’s really something that’s going to bring our community together and it’s also reducing stigma in terms of accessing food,” says Essex town councillor Sherry Bondy. 

She feels there is a need for the food sharing concept in the community.

“We know we can count on food banks and we know they are there but sometimes there are limited access,” Bondy adds. “Food and security comes and goes especially this year. Everybody in our community should have access to food at any time. And that’s what project hope is doing.” 

Project Hope organizers hope the pilot project is one of many more to come.

“This was the main goal to have one in every community throughout Windsor-Essex. I’m not sure how much time that will take or what our next steps are but absolutely I would love to see one of these across Windsor-Essex,” says Gorick.

“In the Harrow, Colchester, residents from McGregor, Essex are encouraged to come here as well. Nobody in our community should go without at this point,” says Bondy.

Organizers say they are accepting donations from the community to help fill the pantry. 

Anyone who would like to volunteer or donate is asked to contact Project Hope.