January 2, 2019 8:24 pm
Updated: January 2, 2019 11:54 pm

Calgary mom gets support from community as she helps feed her less-fortunate neighbours

WATCH: A Calgary mom who recognized a need in her northeast Calgary neighborhood did something about it. She created a free pantry outside her home, but the need has surpassed her own financial capabilities to keep it stocked. Jill Croteau reports.

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Margot Baker is a single mom and also a full-time student putting herself through school. She’s on a fixed income but for 17 months she found enough money within her own family’s grocery budget to purchase food for the less fortunate and created the Abbeydale Little Free Pantry outside her northeast Calgary home.

“It’s a rampant issue in northeast Calgary,” Baker said on Wednesday. “We are sitting at the low end of the socio-economic scale, so there’s a lot of kids who are hungry and parents who are hungry.”

Margot Baker filling up the Free Pantry

Jill Croteau

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She’s involved her children in the process. Seven-year-old Taylor is learning how to help.

“It’s kind of sad [that] so many people don’t have food,” Taylor said.

“We were buying it for people who didn’t have any food to help them so they can stay alive.”

The family wanted to share what they could with their Abbeydale community and hoped to give these strangers in need the dignity to accept help.

“There’s a lot of shame associated [with poverty]. I notice people come by in the middle of the night trying to be discreet or they’ll send their kids because they didn’t want to be in the open,” Baker said. “So I make it as acceptable as I can to have it there to take what they need when they need it.”

She posted a sign inviting people to “take what they need and leave what they can.”

Jill Croteau

But over time, she’s noticed the need growing, and nobody else was leaving anything behind. The free pantry would be emptied out the day after she would stock it with essentials and the cost of keeping it stocked was exceeding her own budget.

READ MORE: CP Holiday Train rolls into Calgary in support of local food banks

Baker posted on social media in the hope of finding some motivation on how to keep the little cupboard stocked. Within hours it was viewed by tens of thousands of people and some have now been dropping off donations.

Margot Baker took to social media for advice.

Jill Croteau

“I was kind of disappointed yesterday when I came home and saw it was empty and nobody doing anything,” Baker said. “I thought, ‘Does anybody actually care?'” Baker said. “I am amazed and humbled at the outpouring of people driving by, it’s incredible. Pretty great way to start the new year.”

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