The tiny pantry making a big impact in St. Cloud

Deryl Ames embraced his new neighborhood by getting involved

Deryl Ames and his family were looking to downsize, they knew they wanted to be near the water.
Deryl Ames and his family were looking to downsize, they knew they wanted to be near the water.

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Deryl Ames and his family were looking to downsize, they knew they wanted to be near the water.

“We’re a boating family,” Ames said from his home in the Pine Grove Estates neighborhood of St. Cloud. The community sits on the shores of Lake Lizzie, Ames moved in a little more than a year ago.

“It’s big enough for us,” Ames said standing in front of his new home. “And it’s small enough that you’re always interacting with your family.”

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News 6 viewer Suzanne Meinke wrote us to say her new neighbor was making a big impact.

“He has gone above and beyond to help everyone in our community,” Meinke wrote in the Getting Results Award nomination, calling him the “king of the hood.”

Ames joined the neighborhood watch, organized a holiday golf cart parade and started a neighborhood Facebook group. His biggest contribution was getting a group of boy scouts together to build a tiny food pantry to serve the approximately 300 homes nearby.

Ames said he got the idea from a Facebook video. Someone made a similar pantry at a school in Chicago.

“I was like wow that is such a great idea. I said I think we can use one of these in our community. In our neighborhood.”

Boy Scout Troop 441 in Holopaw volunteered their time to help build the small wooden structure with donated materials.

“They came in, built it, and it couldn’t have been more than an hour later we stopped by here and it’s full,” Ames said, adding that it’s been like that ever since.

Neighbors take what they need and others fill it back up.

Joan Snider lives nearby and stopped to drop off a basket of food and drinks.

“I think it’s a great idea for people to help each other locally,” Snider said. “I think it’s really nice that you can do things on a small scale. It doesn’t have to be something huge to still be needed and effective.”

“Our community is so giving they’re so willing to help,” Ames said. “It’s about community.”

Ames said he hopes others will see the tiny pantry and be inspired to do something similar in their neighborhood.


About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.