Manila, Philippines – When Ana Patricia Non and several volunteers started community pantries, they proved that the act of helping can be sustainable by simply asking people to give and to take conscientiously. This genuine effort worked, leading to a scaled movement across the country that continues to benefit many people every day.
And in the emergence of this modern-day initiative, volunteers have harnessed free and helpful tools like Google My Maps, Google Sheets, and Google Forms to collaborate nationwide, and gather and organize relevant information such as the location of community pantries. These are helping people easily find community pantries so they can take supplies as needed, support, or donate.
Community Pantries PH is a custom map made with Google My Maps that compiles community pantries across the Philippines, including more than 300 community pantries in Metro Manila alone, alongside those located in Cagayan Valley and Davao City. It also includes locations of farmers and bulk sellers of vegetables and groceries.
Google My Maps is a tool that allows people to create custom maps of important places like hospitals, evacuation centers, and more. Mappers can personalize their own maps with colors and symbols and can even collaborate with others.
Citizens using Community Pantries PH can easily see the name, location, operating hours, and a link to the social media page of the pantry itself or its organizers. By clicking the “directions” icon, they will be redirected to Google Maps to access not just route information but also COVID-19 health protocols.
Reminding people to wear face masks
When people use Google Maps to go to a selected community pantry, they will be reminded to observe health protocols such as wearing face masks before they leave. When the information is tapped or clicked, they will be redirected to a public service announcement page that has more information about health and safety to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
Aside from using Google Maps, a community pantry finder app can also be downloaded from the Google Play store.
Community pantries started in March 2021 where volunteers and organizations set up areas where people could give and take goods for free. It started with a single bamboo cart with vegetables on the sidewalk of Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. This effort has been replicated in several areas in the country, highlighting the Filipinos’ helpful spirit in the midst of a crisis.