Challenging times can bring out the best in us.

A group of five freshman friends at Sayville High School are living proof. The girls have set out on a mission this fall to bring a Little Free Pantry and/or a Freedge — a community refrigerator that members can donate to or take from — to Sayville to address food insecurity in the community.

“We were inspired to find a way to provide free food to the community when we heard about community refrigerators that popped up in Queens,” said Molly Brady, one of the five teens.

“During quarantine, Claws set up a cooler with milk and eggs,” Molly continued, noting the efforts of Claws Seafood Market Crab Shack & Clam Bar owner Frank Palermo. “We heard all of the items were taken. This told us there is a need, here, in Sayville.” 

Molly and her pals — Courtney Thornton, Fallon Santoro, Loghan McNamara and Ellie Sheehan — have set up a “Little Free Pantry” GoFundMe page, hoping to raise money to purchase two pantry sheds ($350 each) and two installation posts ($80).

Eventually, they would like to be able to raise enough money to place a Freedge. They’re also looking for a business owner or community organization that can possibly offer outdoor space for the pantries and Freedge.

Fallon explained that Little Free Pantry and Freedge are international movements that strive to make food available “for anyone who needs it or wants it.”

“Like the Little Free Libraries, Little Free Pantries are set up, and people can leave or take dry, non-perishable goods like bread, peanut butter, snacks, canned or boxed goods,” Fallon said. “Non-perishable milk or juice in boxes or water can also be placed inside.”

Considering that Sayville is such a giving community, Loghan said it’s an ideal location for a Little Free Pantry and Freedge.

“Savyille is a town where there are people who could use access to free food and there are people who are willing to give free food,” Loghan said. “Our community is very generous and so many people support us.

“It is important to give back to our town because Sayville has given so much to us,” she continued. “We hope that down the road, our siblings and other kids can continue the legacy of maintaining our Little Free Pantries.”

The compassionate idea was borne of time away from school sports and regular on-ground classes.

“We aren’t in school full time and we aren’t playing school sports, so we thought we could use this unusual time during the pandemic to create a source of food for people who want it or need it,” Courtney said.

You can click here to donate to the girls’ Little Free Pantry effort.

An example of a free community pantry.