FALMOUTH — Something as simple as having a pot to cook with can make a big difference for some families.

But demand for items like pots and pans is now exceeding the donations received by St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland.

So students in the Community Service Club at Falmouth Middle School stepped up to collect pots, pans, and other tableware for pantry clients.

Katie Coppens, a sixth grade science and language arts teacher, advises the club and said before taking on the project, students talked about what it would feel like to not have the necessary tools to cook at home.

“The kids talked about how important food is in feeling like you are at home and how the act of cooking can be so meaningful for a family,” Coppens said.

Seventh-grader Zoe Weisenfluh this week said “I personally think this is important considering that there are 40 families waiting for a pot just so they can cook a single meal. We take such simple items for granted and I don’t think we realize how much we need these items until we don’t have them.”

Jen Bush, one of the service learning educators at Falmouth High School, first told the club about the need for pots and pans at St. Elizabeth’s. She said several high school students volunteer at the pantry every week and they saw there was a long waiting list of families who need cookware.

St. Elizabeth’s Pantry was founded to help distribute essential items not covered by food stamps, from diapers to small household items. Many of its clients are immigrants and refugees.

Bush said there’s a big need for kitchen items because when people leave a shelter and move into an apartment, they often have very few personal belongings.

“They might be new to this country or have formerly been homeless,” she said. “They might not be able to work yet or have a job that doesn’t cover all of their expenses.”

Coppens said after the call for cookware went out, people in Falmouth responded to the need. One large box has already been delivered to St. Elizabeth’s and another will go this week, she said.

School is letting out for the summer, but direct donations can be dropped off at the pantry on Tuesday mornings.

Coppens said helping an organization like St. Elizabeth’s is important because it gives students an opportunity to understand and learn about social problems “that are both near and far and what they can do to make a difference.”

St. Elizabeth’s pantry “is only 8 miles from our school and it’s important for students to know that there are many people in need right here in Maine,” Coppens said.

“Hearing that there is a 40-person wait list was powerful for students to hear and they wanted to do something to help,” she added.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The Community Service Club at Falmouth Middle School is collecting pots and pans for St. Elizabeth’s Essentials Pantry in Portland.

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