HUXLEY, Iowa — For nearly three decades, if your need was greater than your bank account, you could stop by the Ballard Community Clothes & Food Pantry in Huxley. Pasta, shoes for the kids, a warm blanket for the winner, even emergency rent…almost whatever the need, Jeriann McLaughlin would try to find it for you.
McLaughlin is a retired teacher who opened the pantry in 1994, after seeing a family not able to buy clothes at a secondhand store. She paid their bill, went home and shared the experience with her husband. McLaughlin said that her husband told her that rather being frustrated about the lack of resources for that family, she should do something. So she did.
“We help people from Ames from Des Moines,” McLaughlin said, “….We’re not just Huxley.”
But the owners of the assisted living community that provided space for the pantry free of charge in a converted garage closed. Monday, McLaughlin got a phone call that said that she needed to close the next day. “It threw me for a loop a little bit, “McLaughlin, the eternal optimist, acknowledged.
She posted this message Monday on the pantry’s Facebook page:
“Urgent plea! Just got the bad news that Ballard Community Clothes and Food Pantry is closing as of tomorrow. Ballard Creek cannot let us operate there without their presence on the property. Please help us find a new home in Huxley! If you don’t know the history, the pantry has been in existence since 1994. It is an integral part of our community. Will have to start cleaning out as of this week so the pantry will not be open.”Ballard Community Clothes & Food Pantry Facebook post
But Tuesday, another business owner offered vacant office space–a much bigger location and just a few blocks away–for the pantry. McLaughlin is thankful for the unexpected and rapid offer. But she said a large room needs to be drywalled before the pantry can use it.
So she hopes someone in the community can help.
Drywall is tops on the wish list for the new location. But she said that the pantry could also use a new vacuum, cleaning supplies, toiletries, along with cereal and kids’ snacks since students have returned to class.
If you are able to help, you can contact her at 515-291-3543 or send a message to the Ballard Community Clothes & Food Pantry Facebook page.