Proponents behind the White Rock Pantry Project are appealing to the community to help them really ‘sock it’ to those in need this holiday season.
Elizabeth-Ann Winkler said a campaign is underway to collect basic personal-care items and warm accessories – socks, in particular – for pantry clients and others who are struggling.
The sundry small items will be stuffed into the donated socks, to create “sockings” which will then be on display and available to choose from during a Dec. 2 event celebrating the 1510 Johnston Rd. pantry’s second anniversary.
“So it’s a nice combination of a Christmas stocking and a for-real stocking,” Winkler said of the idea.
Those interested are invited to drop off sockings they’ve created during the Pantry Christmas event, she continued, noting the anniversary affair will operate much like the pantry itself.
Set for 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., “it’s sort of a not easily controlled thing,” she said.
“Who comes, who goes, who gives… you just kind of put it out to the universe and hope it all comes together.”
Winkler launched the Pantry Project in December 2021, in response to a suggestion from her daughter, Laurel. They had been talking about creating a free library at ThirdSpace – an inclusive hub created by Peninsula United Church in 2017 to serve the area’s desire for a sense of community – when her daughter noted that a food pantry would likely go much further to help.
Many who accessed ThirdSpace’s programs or services would note challenges of getting to the food bank, Winkler explained. As well, as a volunteer driver for Cloverdale Community Kitchen – which provides hot meals for those “experiencing hunger, hurt and homelessness” – she sees firsthand that there are many seniors struggling in White Rock.
“I was looking at all the (meal-delivery) routes, and… over half the routes are in South Surrey/White Rock,” she said.
With permission from the City of White Rock, a “take what you need, leave what you can” pantry was erected in the city-owned parking lot at the corner of Russell Avenue and Johnston Road; the same lot where White Rock Rotary held its ‘Feed My City’ effort, in which lunches were distributed free of charge.
Two years later, the pantry’s shelves continue to empty quickly after food items are added.
“It doesn’t matter what anybody puts in there, it all goes. It’s just immediate,” said Winkler.
“That really shows you how critical this kind of food insecurity is in our community right now.”
A recent Statistics Canada study found 18 per cent of families in Canada reported experiencing food insecurity in 2022, up from 16 per cent in 2021.
In July 2023, a report from City of White Rock recreation and culture director John Woolgar noted that those accessing food stored in the pantry included seniors, people experiencing homelessness and others “struggling with food insecurity.”
Winkler said one positive of the pantry is the sense of community that has grown around it, with the mix of people who give and take. Some do both, she noted.
Recently, Winkler needed a tall person to help affix a new sign to the pantry, and asked “one of my new friends” who benefits from the donations to lend a hand.
“He was in tears, he was so happy to do that,” she said.
For the Dec. 2 event, the White Rock Baptist Church community, as well as local Facebook-group members and businesses, have all stepped up to help.
Fiona Lai said the church has committed to purchasing socks, and youth-group members are looking forward to assembling sock care packages during their Dec. 1 youth night. Those interested in pitching in but unable to help with assembly or attend the Dec. 2 celebration are invited to drop small items or monetary gifts off to the church, located at 1657 140 St., by Dec. 1, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, or contact Lai at
The Body Shop in Semiahmoo Centre is also collecting items for the campaign, Lai noted.
“These Care Packages will not only provide essential items but also convey a sense of care and support to individuals experiencing difficulties in our community,” she said by email.
“We believe that our collective generosity will undoubtedly make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who receive these packages.”
Items sought for the sockings include travel-sized toiletries, lip balms, soap, small flashlights, toothpaste and candy.
Cold-weather clothing donations in “well-sealed bags” will also be accepted during the Dec. 2 event, Winkler added.
For more information, visit the White Rock Pantry Project Facebook page.