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Riverside Chat: Pantry off to good start

Success can be measured a number of ways, but I think it’s clear that the personal care pantry of Rock Falls United Methodist Church has been successful in its first 2 months.

I caught up with two of the pantry’s organizers – the Rev. Rich Fassig and Jodi Perez – and was pleased to find out it has gone well for the first 2 months. There were 71 families who attended the September pantry day and 109 attending the October day, they said, adding that the second didn’t see many repeats.

The pantry is open from 10 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of the month. On the morning of Sept. 21, the first day of the pantry, people were waiting in their cars at 7:45 a.m., Fassig said. They were worried the pantry would run out of items.

Fassig, Perez and the 13 other church members had planned ahead, the pastor said, and prepared bags for 300 families.

The fact that there weren’t many repeats was good, they said, because not only did it mean they were reaching more people, but it also means they were doing what they had hoped – giving people a little help at the end of the month.

Church members wanted to make a difference in the community, as most do, before they opened the pantry, but Fassig said they needed to find the right way to do it. Their way was opening a pantry where area residents could pick up personal care items, like soap, deodorant, shampoo or toilet paper.

They decided to open the pantry at the end of the month in the hope that their assistance could help people at a time when money may be running low.

In the first 2 months the pantry has been opened, they said, they’ve had people come from Rock Falls, Sterling and Dixon, and from as far as Morrison and Prophetstown.

Both Fassig and Perez seemed genuinely shocked at the generosity of the community. They’ve received checks from individuals and organizations, ranging from $50 to $250, they said, in addition to donated items.

The first day they opened, Perez said, a man approached her and thanked her. He had a job interview coming up and, because of the pantry, he could go to it shaved and clean. The man told her he was going to give back to the pantry when he could, she said.

He wasn’t at the pantry during its second month, Perez said, adding that she likes to believe that he got the job and doesn’t need to came back.

Sauk Valley Media reporter Matt Mencarini has been covering Sterling and Rock Falls, but beginning this week is covering Dixon city government and schools. He can be reached at or at 815-625-3600, ext. 529. Follow him on Twitter: @MattMencarini.

About the pantry

Rock Falls United Methodist Church, 210 Fourth Ave., opens the doors to the pantry from 10 a.m. to noon the third Saturday of each month.

Rock Falls United Methodist Church will accept donations for its personal care pantry from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at the church, 210 Fourth Ave., or by appointment.

In addition to taking donations of money, the church will accept the following items: shampoo, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap, bath soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorant and female sanitary napkins.

For more information or to donate, call 815-751-2290, email or go to

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