Photo by Victoria Stevans

By Victoria Stevans

The Yellow Glove Project is gearing up to apply for its third Elks National Foundation Impact Grant in the upcoming months, so that it can continue to provide integral household products to Northside Food Pantry visitors.

Created by Anne George, an Allegheny Elks Lodge #339 member, Northside Food Pantry Advisor and software engineer, The Yellow Glove Project aims to fill a gap otherwise left open.

“Food stamps can’t cover cleaning supplies or personal hygiene items,” George said. “So people can have a difficult time buying items to take care of themselves and their homes.”

To supplement this lack, The Yellow Glove Project uses funding from the Elks to help the Northside Food Pantry distribute about 200 bags a month full of laundry detergent, dish soap, paper towels, toilet paper, and more.

The project began when George was awarded the $10,000 Impact Grant in 2016, which proved to be one of 60 grants chosen from the 1,911 Elks Lodges in the United States. George and her Elks Lodge then earned a rare, second-consecutive grant in 2017.

“I was so far out of my comfort zone applying for a grant and running it,” George said. “But, thankfully there are really good people involved.”

Throughout the two rounds of grant application, George has learned how to most effectively delineate funds.

“The first year was the learning curve; I ended up spending money on cloth bags. They cost $3,000,” George said. “This year, we asked for bag donations, and within the first three months I had [over] 1,500 cloth bags.”

With many food pantry patrons taking the bus or traveling on foot, “sturdy bags with straps” are a must, according to George. However, cutting them out of the refined 2017 budget and instead relying on community donations was a financial necessity.

George also relies on local businesses as a source of cleaning and hygiene products. Waltmire Pharmacy in Spring Garden delivers necessary items to the food pantry monthly and has given its own donations in the past.

Once products reach the pantry, Elks volunteers and community members fill the bags themselves in an assembly-line style.

“This [the program’s success, etc.] really all comes from the community,” George said.

Recently, The Yellow Glove Project applied for a One Northside Community Grant so the organization can create a sign for the food pantry and paint its façade, in the hopes of “making it look more like a store and less like a basement,” George said.

The project will hear back about the grant’s outcome by Friday, June 30, but in the meantime, community donations have been received.

The Northside Food Pantry, which serves over 1,800 households annually, operates under a dignity of choice model.

“People can walk around the shelves and choose what [food] they want and decide what fits their lifestyle,” George said, “It relieves some of the stress of food anxiety.”

Now, after The Yellow Glove Project’s implementation, the pantry can provide its visitors further peace of mind.

“Being able to pick out your own food, and then not having compromise cleaning products means that along with dignity of choice, you can also have dignity of place,” George said. “People don’t have to choose between a clean home and food.”

For their work in 2016, The Yellow Glove Project and the Elks Lodge #339 were included in the Northside Food Pantry Advisors’ Jefferson Award, an esteemed national recognition for community and public volunteerism.

For 2018’s grant, after all of the project’s successes and learning experiences, George feels ready to “ramp up” next year’s expectations and “get the whole community engaged.”

“The natural progression is having Northsiders match the [grant’s] $10,000 with funds or time,” George said.

Northside residents can lend support to the Yellow Glove Project by donating their time at The Northside Food Pantry’s monthly packing nights, which according to George, will start up again in September.

“We form an assembly line and pack the bags [of household products],” George said. “If we don’t have enough people it can be really tiring, but if there are a lot of people it goes very smoothly.”

Northsiders can also help by donating personal hygiene or cleaning products, which can be dropped off at the Northside Common Ministries, 1601 Brighton Rd. All bags should be labeled: “The Yellow Glove Project.”

For any other questions, or for clarification, contact yellowgloveproject@gmail.com.