THOMASIAN COMMUNITY PANTRY:
UST Parish, Simbahayan launch ‘kindness stations’ 

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THE SANTISIMO Rosario Parish and UST-Simbahayan Community Development Office launched on Sunday their own twist to the community pantry initiative—two “kindness stations” on Dapitan and P. Noval streets, open on Sundays.

The stations are located at UST Gate 10 on Dapitan Street and Gate 7 on P. Noval Street, and operate from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

The kindness stations were able to serve 400 individuals on their first day, Parish Priest Fr. Paul Talavera, O.P. said.

Food items such as instant noodles, rice, eggs, vegetables, biscuits, juice, canned goods,  and milk, hygiene products and rosaries were distributed.

Taking inspiration from Caritas Manila’s “Alay Kapwa sa Pamayanan,” Talavera said the community pantry aims to “decentralize humanitarian response,” unlike the traditional top-to-bottom donor-to-beneficiary model.

“This [community pantry] is a very Christian response to the current situation of need in our country [where] the apostles sold their personal belongings, to share in common and give according to those who are in need,” he told the Varsitarian.

Talavera said the parish enforced health protocols following the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and had coordinated with barangay officials, police and UST administrators. 

Those lining up were required to wear face masks shields, bring their quarantine passes and observe social distancing. Minors and senior citizens were not allowed to fall in line.

UST students, employees and alumni, parish servants, religious sisters, lay Dominicans and other donors supplied stocks for the kindness stations.

‘Community pantries exemplify hope, mirror the Gospel’

During the University-wide Easter recollection Mass on April 23, Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P. said the community pantry movement could be seen as a symbol of the Eucharist and God’s love.

“Itong phenomenon na community pantry is a sign of hope [because] it mirrors the Gospel. Nailalarawan ang pagmamahal, pag-aalay ng ating Panginoon sa atin,” Tiong said in his homily.

(This community pantry phenomenon is a sign of hope because it mirrors the Gospel. It exemplifies the love and sacrifice of the Lord to us.) 

Tiong said the system of people taking only what they needed and donating what they could promoted charity by encouraging Filipinos to consider not only their own well-being but also that of others.

“If Jesus in the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, then there has always been a Eucharistic pantry. [Kaya] ang pinakamagandang gift na maiaambag natin is ourselves. When we follow Jesus in our hearts, then that’s the only time we can offer truly,” he said.

(If Jesus in the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, then there has always been a Eucharistic pantry. [Thus], the greatest gift we can contribute is ourselves. When we follow Jesus in our hearts, then that’s the only time we can offer truly.)

He called on Thomasians to value the “spiritual pantry” by renewing one’s faith and becoming bearers of hope in the family. 

“Pray for your parents because that is an act of hope. Only when the spiritual pantry of faith, hope, and love in the family is overflowing would we remember to give and not be self-centered,” he said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has praised community-based initiatives, saying efforts to help the needy embodied the “true bayanihan spirit.

“We are happy to know that in recent days, neighborhoods and communities have organized themselves to help needy families, especially with food and other basic necessities,” CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said in a statement.

On April 14, the first community pantry was set up on Maginhawa Street, Quezon City. Pantries have sprouted across the Philippines and in other countries, with organizers seeking to ease hunger among the needy during the pandemic. Ma. Alena O. Castillo and Sophia T. Sadang

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