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West Indianapolis woman shuts down pantry she'd been operating since COVID started

"I don’t want somebody to come along and break into my house,” said Shirley Crumley.

INDIANAPOLIS — “One of my gifts is the gift of giving,” said 71-year-old Shirley Crumley, who has always believed it’s better to give than receive.

That’s why two months into the COVID pandemic in 2020, Crumley started a food pantry outside her house in Indy’s Eagledale neighborhood on the city’s west side.

Her efforts started out small, just some canned food that she left outside on a table for anyone who wanted to take it for free.

Shirley called her pantry, “Small Blessings.”

“Everyone always said they were so thankful that I was here to help them and stuff,” Crumley said

Over the past two years, the pantry got bigger.

More people heard about Crumley’s efforts and donated food. Then came donations of clothing. Before she knew it, Crumley was buying a shed and clothing racks for all the donations.

Credit: WTHR

And the need was there.

“The doors would stay open. We pinned them back open so people could go in there and get whatever they needed,” Crumley said.

That’s the way it went for 2 1/2 years, until a few months ago, when Crumley said someone broke into the shed overnight.  

A few weeks later, she noticed one of her clothing racks was gone.

“To me people breaking in and taking stuff from me, all they had to do was ask. I would have gladly given them whatever they needed,” Crumley said.

Instead, she decided to close up shop.

“My feeling is, 'What’s going to come next?' I don’t want somebody to come along and break into my house,” Crumley said.

She’s not sure if she’ll reopen the pantry in the future, but said there are other ways to give back. Crumley’s got 30 chickens and a lot of eggs to give away.

“It just makes me feel good knowing I’m doing whatever I can to help anybody out there,” she said.

Credit: WTHR

Crumley doesn’t look at closing the pantry as letting the bad guys win. She’s thankful it lasted as long as it did and helped as many people as it did, thanks to donors who understood even the smallest of blessings still count.

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