In Athens, there is a place where personal care and hygiene items are available for free. The free pantry is stocked with toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, soap, shampoo and more. Community volunteers Liz Terwilliger and Terry Johnston recently gave the food pantry some love and attention.
The project began in March 2021 when the Liz Terwilliger Committee for Congress organized a hygiene and personal care campaign to coincide with Women’s History Month. The group ran a pop-up food pantry and donated donated items to community members in need.
“There were a few things left,” Terwilliger explained, “I thought of the little pantry opened by Becky’s Diner in Waverly. I contacted Terry Johnston, owner of the Mad Hatters in Athens, and asked if she would be interested in organizing a similar hygiene pantry outside the cafe. Terry had worked with me on previous food drives and on the hygiene drive. She has a beautiful tea garden and space around her building. Mad Hatter seemed to be a perfect fit and she immediately agreed!
Terwilliger refurbished a discarded chest of drawers and with the help of her husband, Chris, and with Johnston’s blessing, the small pantry was installed in 2021.
While food and clothing donations are important to the community, personal hygiene items are often overlooked and are much appreciated by those who cannot easily afford them.
“The pantry has been very popular over the past year,” Johnston said, “so it’s worth revamping and restocking.”
Terwilliger brought his granddaughter, Arya, to help him, Johnston and other volunteers in the parking lot behind the Mad Hatters last Sunday morning. They cleaned, repaired and repainted the cabinet.
“Today is National Freedom Service Day,” said Terwilliger, a local libertarian. “Voluntary action is the key to libertarian philosophy. We believe in personal action rather than tax-funded government solutions. Individuals should be free to choose projects or causes to support with their time and donations. The Community Hygiene Pantry is important to me because it meets a real need in people’s daily lives.
“Money is tight,” agreed Johnston. “It’s something everyone needs. You can’t buy these items with food stamps, but they are essential items.
In April, the Bradford County Libertarian Party voted to co-sponsor the pantry going forward.
“They will help maintain the pantry and stock it,” Terwilliger said.
Anyone interested in donating to the pantry or helping this effort is encouraged to add personal care and hygiene items to the shelves at any time. If the shelves are full or the donation is large, people can bring donations to the Mad Hatters Café.