In A Pinch Non Food Pantry has opened at 264 Pool St., in Biddeford after a lengthy hiatus while they looked for new quarters. Here board Secretary Tina Giacullo and President Marie Clark-Colman pause for a photo inside the product closet. The pantry offers cleaning supplies and personal care items to those in need and is open on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — In a Pinch Non Food Pantry is back, helping people in the area by providing toiletries, cleaning supplies and baby items when the pennies just won’t stretch.

In A Pinch is now located at 264 Pool St., in Biddeford, the home of Dunlap Lodge, about one-eighth of a mile beyond West Brook Skating Rink.

The pantry had been on hiatus for more than a year while board members looked for new digs as Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center, where it had been located since its beginning in 1996, needed more room to serve its own clients.

It has been a lengthy search, with some ups and downs as various locations didn’t come to fruition, but now the pantry is open again, 4 p.m. to about 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the 264 Pool St. location.

In A Pinch board President Marie Clark-Colman and Secretary Tina Giacullo said they’ve been working with the people from Shuttlebus, and while it is not specifically designated, the bus will stop at the location.

In 2018, volunteers at the non-food pantry served 1,514 families, and logged 1,742 volunteer hours. Over the years, those who utilize In A Pinch include families with children, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and those without a roof over their heads.

Clients may visit once a month, up to eight times a year, and may take up to 10 items per visit.

On offer are household items like toilet paper, trash bags, dish detergent, and cleaning supplies; personal care items like shampoo, feminine hygiene products, razors and soap; along with baby items like shampoo, lotion, wipes, diapers when available; and more.

There are times when some people, like those who are homeless, may need a bit more of one item and less or none of others, depending on their circumstances, and Clark-Colman and Giacullo recognize the need and work it out, they said. They recalled a specific case, where a homeless woman’s tent and all of her belongings were stolen, and  they helped her get new supplies.

“We think about what their (clients’) situation is,” said Giacullo.

In A Pinch Non Food Pantry started in 1996 as Clark-Colman and the late Charlotte Bourgault, both who worked for Head Start at the time, heard from a woman who told them she couldn’t get paper products and cleaning supplies with the food stamp program — purchasing those items isn’t allowed.

“It took us a year” to get started, Clark-Colman recalled.

Giacullo had a child enrolled in Head Start at the time, and became involved, she said, because she’d had assistance during some lean times.

“I wanted to pay it forward,” she said.

Giacullo has been a volunteer since the beginning and secretary of the board of trustees for the nonprofit for more than 10 years.

“I feel the best when I’m helping and doing for others,” she said.

The pantry had been looking for space since they were forced to close because volunteers “wanted to come back for the community, to help them become self-sufficient,” said Clark-Colman.

In A Pinch Non Food Pantry is funded by donations and grants. Everyone involved is a volunteer — there is no paid staff. But, expenses have increased because they are now paying rent.

“We order online whenever we find a bargain,” said Clark-Colman.

The volunteer board members are assisted in the pantry by additional volunteers from Work Opportunities Unlimited, who fill orders for pantry-goers from lists clients fill out when they drop by.

“I like coming into the community and helping,” said Stacy Smart.

“I like coming here to help people,” said Chris Lopez.

“It’s fun, and I like doing stuff like this,” said Shawn Palmer.

“They’re a good team, together,” said Work Opportunities Unlimited staffer Jolene Beaudoin.

In a Pinch board member Claude Drouin began volunteering during a period when he became unemployed and had time on his hands. It is something he enjoys, he said.

“Then, I got another job, but I’m still doing it,” he said with a smile.

Groups or individuals who would like to donate to the cause — whether it be a check or products — may contact Clark-Colman at 283-1258.

Clark-Colman and Giacullo reflected on the long life of In A Pinch and its return.

“I believe in the program and helping people, “said Clark-Colman.

“We’re very thankful to be open,” said Giacullo.

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