Christmas connections at the Eden Pantry

People come and go from the Eden Pantry while I watch on from the table, waiting to have my questions answered.
People come and go from the Eden Pantry while I watch on from the table, waiting to have my questions answered.

Inside Eden's Community Pantry at the Uniting Church Hall, an elderly woman sits at one of the decorated tables whispering softly to a small baby dozing off to sleep in her arms.

Meanwhile the room is a hum of shoppers grabbing their last minute goods before the Pantry closes its doors for Christmas.

I'm trying to catch a moment of Pantry co-organiser Pam Skelton's attention, I want to ask her about how the year has been for the pantry and plans for the new year.

But for every conversation ended another one begins and so it goes.

I glance over again at the elderly woman at the table.

The baby has fallen asleep and the woman watches the moving crowd quietly, there is an air of contentment over her face.

I think about the hurry I am in.

Finally Pam notices me and comes over with a warm smile and bottle of cold water straight from the fridge.

"So how's the Pantry year gone?" I ask, cutting straight to the chase.

"It's been fabulous, it's become a great place of connection," she begins.

However, what I really want to know is; is there really a need, has she noticed more people using the Pantry, buying the cheaper food items as the year's gone on, especially now because it's Christmas.

I open my mouth to ask, when Pam looks at me and apologises.

"Just a minute," she says, lifting from her chair responding to a woman at the door, who is wishing her a Merry Christmas.

"Will you be going to see your mum?" I overhear Pam ask.

"No she's not doing too well...the bus is expensive...it's too far away...she'll be okay," the woman responds arms heavy with a box full of food.

A small boy wraps a string of silver tinsel around her legs.

"She'll see the kids next year..."

I drift away from the conversation, noticing another younger woman trying the free clothes laid out on a table up against herself.

Although it's one o'clock and the Pantry is supposed to be shut there are still people coming and going.

I wonder if I am ever going to get my minute with Pam.

Underneath a home-made mistletoe Peter Skelton is busy counting green pantry gift vouchers that allow people to buy people $30 worth of groceries for $10.

He holds up the massive wad of paper like a bank roll of American dollar notes and shows it to a volunteer.

"That's just from today," he says.

I think he's just answered my question.

I collect up my hardly scribbled on notepad and head towards the door.

My beeline is intercepted by the old woman who is handing the now awake baby back to her mother.

"Thanks for looking after her," the mum says.

"It was a delight," comes the reply.

I get the feeling these women don't really know each other.

I think about my question...now I think I have my answer.

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