Seaholme Community Pantry opens its door

Daniel Thom with children Leon and Greta, and Kate De Marco. (Damjan Janevski) 239529_04

Goya Dmytryshchak

Two Seaholme neighbours have joined the Pataka Movement, providing food and essentials in a street pantry for those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virgin Australia airline captain Daniel Thom and Kate De Marco started the Seaholme Community Pantry after seeing how quickly people’s circumstances could change, both financially and emotionally.

Mr Thom said he was stood down last year during the pandemic but considered himself one of the lucky ones.

“I saw colleagues at work all of a sudden not getting a wage in and how financially things can change overnight,“ he said.

“I could see a lot of pressure and how even though we might be living in a nice house and have a nice car, behind the doors you don’t know what people are suffering.“

Melbourne’s Pataka Movement was founded by ground crew member Hollie Smith with her friend Gayle Crawford, both Wyndham residents originally from New Zealand.

“Pataka in Maori means pantry,“ Mr Thom said.

“[Our pantry ] is being used both by people donating and people taking, so both ways.“

He said his children, Greta, age nine, and Leon, age 11, helped to check use-by dates and organise the pantry.

Ms De Marco, whose driveway houses the pantry, said the idea eventuated from a “neighbourly chat about what we could do in a time when people were struggling“.

“I come from a family of ’others before self’ and I mean that in a positive way, not [as in] ’you give everything until there’s nothing left’,“ she said.

“My family has always volunteered and given back to the community, both in this country and overseas.

“It brings people together.

“There’s a sense of community that has happened with this pantry, in the sense that people check in now.

“They send me a message: ’What does the pantry need?’

“Other people just come and restock it.“

For more information, visit the Seaholme Community Pantry page on Facebook.