Walk through any neighborhood in Seattle and chances are you’ll come across a Little Free Library—one of those dozens of miniature lending libraries (littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap) that invite neighbors to borrow books and leave volumes they no longer want.
Walk through Josh Pearson’s Squire Park neighborhood in the Central District, though, and you may stumble across our city’s first Little Free Pantry—an unassuming white box with a gabled roof and two shelves where neighbors can leave nonperishable food, bottled water and hygiene items for people in need.
Pearson, 32, came across a story about the original Little Free Pantry, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and thought, why not? “We live in such a diverse neighborhood, with so many different people at all income levels living within three blocks of us. It just seemed like something worth trying out.” Pearson says items turn over regularly, with packaged foods, water, deodorant and toothpaste in high demand. Even his youngest neighbors are pitching in. “It says, ‘Take what you want, leave what you can,’ and there’s a little girl down the street who came by one day and wanted the applesauce,” Pearson recalls. “She came back the next day and left some Girl Scout cookies.”