ELKTON — Sheilagh Weinert once turned to her community to help her out in a pinch. These days, she spends her time lending a helping hand to those in need by opening a pantry right next door.
This month, Weinert officially opened “Sheilagh’s Pantry,” a donation center in the Hollingsworth Manor community where people in the neighborhood can stop by for food, clothing, kitchen items, toys and books if they’re in need.
Weinert and her team recently started collecting food for traditional Thanksgiving meals for those without resources. So far, the bags are packed with stuffing, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rice and other side dishes. Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without a turkey or ham.
Elkton Commissioner Rob Massimiano donated four turkeys and three hams that were dropped off earlier this week.
“We’ve definitely come a long way from just leaving things outside in an actual pantry,” she said.
Weinert has been running the Hollingsworth Manor and Elk Landing’s pantry center informally for five years through social media. She can be spotted making the rounds through Facebook, posting pictures of whatever item that was just dropped off at her place.
She was inspired after seeing the neighborhood respond to her when she needed help. When she had issues with the water in her house, a friend of hers used social media to request assistance from people nearby. That day, a steady flow of neighbors came out to drop off bottled water.
“I felt if my community could do this, then I could too,” Weinert said. “Now I get excited when people drop things off.”
Weinert sees Sheilagh’s Pantry as a one-stop-shop in an easy to access location. Before she opened officially, the do-gooder would leave requested items outside in a wooden shed for pick-up.
Weinert has a keen eye for identifying those genuinely in need of assistance versus those taking advantage of her charity. She keeps a watchful eye on the Facebook posts to see who’s “shopping around” and commenting a lot, but does know that word-of-mouth is key to her business.
Donations come from neighbors and landlords in Hollingsworth Manor and Elk Landing, but Weinert also solicits donations from organizations like Upper Bay Counseling Services, the Help Center, Youth Empowerment Source and the Paris Foundation, Mobile Missions Project (and Cecil County Community Mediation Center) and others.
The pantry now is officially housed out of one side of a duplex the Weinert family owns. Over time and with the help of other volunteers — Sarah Guns, Jessica and Andy Hibberd and Tonya Hodge — the duplex is outfitted with shelves and clothing racks.
Much of the help also came from community partners. Builders FirstSource donated the lumber for the shelves and Barbara Smith, Cecil County’s chief of community partnerships, helped source the clothing racks.
Weinert said the pantry is intended for those who live in Hollingsworth Manor and Elk Landing, but is leaving the door open to possibly growing her base.
“I’d love to see it happen for the rest of Elkton sometime later,” she said.
If you are interested in donating an item to Sheilagh’s Pantry or if you know someone in need of assistance, email Weinert at email@example.com or find her on Facebook.
Editor's note: an earlier version of this article has Weinert's email incorrect. We have corrected it and we regret the error.