We found the Sunshine Pantry in a couple of small units on the back side of one of the buildings in a big office park complex. There were a lot of folks there, also responding to the Michelle Obama email. After signing in and sticking nametags on our chests, we met Sharon, the force behind the Sunshine Pantry. What an incredible story. Sharon started more than 25 years ago, with a Cub Scout troop project to put together food packages for 6 needy families at Christmas time. Seeing the need, she continued the project and expanded it and for many years the pantry resided in her garage in a residential neighborhood. (In fact, we discovered, just around the corner from my daughter Emily's house.) Just last year she was able to move to the warehouses in the office park. Here's Sharon.
She's a small woman with a big voice (and obviously big heart). She showed us around the aisles of donated refrigerators and freezers full of fresh and frozen food, including decorated birthday cakes for children. (She provides everything for a birthday party, including paper plates, napkins, candy, decorations, etc.—all donated) There are aisles filled with canned goods, cleaning products and health and hygiene items. In the second building there is backstock as well as clothing, toys and household items. There were people standing patiently in a line with totebags and laundry baskets, waiting their turn to "shop". At one point a van pulled up and we all helped unload cases of canned goods. We learned that it was a woman who enjoys filling her van once or twice a year and making a surprise delivery to the pantry. Sharon greeted her with a big hug and profuse thanks.
Sharon was thrilled, but unprepared for all the volunteers and for a few moments I wondered what on earth good we could be, but she quickly put us all to work. It seemed that she and her core volunteers had not been able to keep up with the donations of things other than food and there were boxes and bags of donated items piled in the back of the warehouse. We pulled everything out onto the strip of grass alongside the parking lot and began sorting donations into piles of like items. Within a few hours we were able to put everything back, but organized and relatively visible.
Sharon's good humor never wavered and I believe she got around to thank each volunteer personally—she thanked me twice. We promised her we'd be back. Remarkable woman.
Added: In the comments Miles said he did not get the email from Michelle Obama and asked for a link to the information. You can find it here.