Because of continued community support and involvement, the Personal Essentials Pantry (PEP) is beginning its fifth year of operation. The PEP, a community-based mission project of the First United Methodist church, provides basic products necessary for personal and household cleanliness and good health.
Personal essentials such as soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent and toothpaste are expensive and are not covered by the Food Share Program. Food pantries sometimes receive and distribute small numbers of these products; however, space and money shortages create a problem as to how food pantries can distribute these products along with food.
PEP clients are people who receive Food Share, WIC (the supplemental nutritional program for women, infants and children) or use an area food pantry. In addition, pastors of area churches have referral forms that they can use at their discretion for families in temporary financial trouble. In 2012, PEP had the privilege of serving 505 households from 22 Northwoods communities. Of those families, 406 had a Rhinelander address.
Volunteers come from all aspects of our community-grade schools, scout troops, campfire troops, high school groups, various private and public clubs, factories, churches, businesses and the chamber of commerce. These people have held collections, fundraisers and competitions to collect products for distribution and raise funds for PEP. The United Way of the Northwoods also sponsors PEP.
Distribution days are the second Monday of each month from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and the last Saturday of each month 9 a.m. to noon. PEP is located at the First United Methodist Church on the corner of Prospect and Arbutus. The entrance is located on Wabash Street under the carport.
New PEP volunteers are always welcome. Orientations are held on distribution Saturdays every month. Call ahead to participate in orientations. Any group that would like a speaker for their next club meeting may call Barb Oestreicher at (715) 282-5956 or Shirley Bettinger at (715) 362-2988 for orientation, more information or answers to any PEP questions.