One Yukon family has taken a church lesson to heart and opened a free supply stand to help area residents with necessities.
Vincent Murillo, 14, Carlen Otts, 11 and Allanis Otts, 9, along with their mother Janille Otts started what they call a “grab and go” stand around March 20, as part of a challenge by Life Church’s pastor, Craig Groeschel.
“Pastor Craig taught us to give stuff to our family and others,” Murillo said.
As the family saw their friends and neighbors lose savings and jobs, they knew exactly what they had to do. Soon, a bright red stand, adorned with a “FREE!” sign, was erected at 1213 S. First St., across from Myers Elementary.
Janille Otts said she and the children started inside their own pantry, taking items and putting them outside for anyone to take.
The family had already stocked up on supplies shortly before they heard Groeschel’s message.
“I posted it (on Facebook), and people started to come by,” Janille Otts said.
Originally, the stand was open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it grew to a 24/7 operation when Janille Otts realized that some people might be uncomfortable coming by during the day.
“I get up in the morning and check to see what’s gone,” Janille Otts said. “We’re not really running low on anything, which I think is a blessing.”
As word of the supply stand spread, others reached out to Janille Otts wanting to donate other items or money.
“People started to send me messages, asking if they could donate, and I said, ‘Of course you can!,’” Janille Otts said.
In-demand items have included toilet paper, paper towels and pet food, Janille Otts said. But even things like sanitary pads or peanut butter and jelly have made their way to people in need thanks to the supply stand.
“I was surprised, because we didn’t think of pet food,” she said. “Then a lady who works for an animal rescue came by and dropped off a lot of pet food.”
The three children are home-schooled, and combined with their normal school work, music lessons and keeping an eye on the supply stand, the family is busier than ever. But as far as they’re concerned, the extra work is worth the effort.
“It makes me feel amazing because we’re helping everyone,” said Allanis Otts.
Carlen Otts said she’s most looking forward to going back to church, once social distancing and quarantine measures are lifted.
“This makes me count my blessings more,” Carlen Otts said. “My friend’s mom lost her job, but my parents are still working so we can have money to pay the bills and get food and supplies.”
Janille Otts, who is originally from the Philippines, has also been cooking and giving away food. She mainly cooks food that she learned to cook back home, like Filipino egg rolls, which are always a hit.
“I really love to cook, and I know a lot of people need food,” she said. “I have a home business, so I’m able to cook a lot. Sometimes I’ll just cook for the fun of it and give the food away.”
That ties back into their pastor’s challenge.
“It’s always been a challenge from Pastor Craig, to do something for other people,” she said. “My talent is cooking, so I’ll use that one.”