April Watkins

April Watkins with the food pantry, Doodlebug's Blessings.

Carthage resident April Watkins was searching for a way to help the needy of her community, and found a creative solution in her own front yard.

Using a set of shelves she’d commissioned from a friend, Watkins set up a freestanding “food pantry” on her front lawn, painted bright green and visible from the road.

She packed it full of donations and advertised it as an anonymous pickup spot for those in need. In honor of the pet name her grandmother once gave her, Watkins is calling the project “Doodlebug’s Blessings.”

Within days, Watkins had garnered the support from numerous donors, and the Facebook group she’d created to coordinate donations has been joined by over 400 users. People gave lots of canned and boxed food, but also dishes, clothing, diapers and more. One donor even mailed a sizable check to buy supplies.

“To be honest, if I knew it would reach so many people, I would have gotten a bigger building,” joked Watkins. But just this week, she did exactly that, when someone donated a metal storehouse to install on the property Watkins shares with her girlfriend and son. It will need repairing and repainting, so she is asking for volunteer power from anyone interested in lending a hand to fix the place up.  

Doodlebug’s Blessings was inspired by her mother, who Watkins remembers would frequently take her along to buy food and deliver it to the homeless.

”We all know what it’s like to struggle when life gets hard,” she said. “I’m at a point in my life where I’m stable enough to help people. I’m trying to pay it forward.” 

Food donations and supplies can be dropped in the storehouse or pantry, at 1453 Niagara Carthage Rd, Carthage, NC 28374. To ask about volunteering or for any other information, call April Watkins at 910-338-6139. 

Contact Mary Moore at mmoore@thepilot.com

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