The Takery was formed four years ago to bring people together and give back to the community, and that is what it continues to do today.

On the third Thursday of every month from 4 to 5:30 p.m., The Takery is set up in the gazebo in Cameron Park in Sunbury. Among an assortment of items free for the taking, people may find baked goods, warm food, pantry items, household products, blankets, and more.

On Thursday, Nov. 17, The Takery will offer a turkey dinner. Ian Speck, who prepares meals for the gathering, said that dinner will include turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, filling, and more.

Ann Evans summed up the organization as “communities of faith working together.” Before she retired, Evans was the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley (UUCSV). Evans said that she and leaders across other denominations originally formed a group called Sunbury Together.

“The main cohort was always Rabbi Nina from Congregation Beth El as well as Sonia Ammar from the Islamic center and Rich Fangman from Zion Lutheran Church,” she said. “We started seeing if there were questions in Sunbury we could answer, but we found that there weren’t a lot of things that we, as organizations of faith, could make happen.”

The realization made the group reconsider their purpose, Evans said. “At different events, Rich, Nina, and I would have conversations about what it meant to us to be putting our faith into action. This was over and beyond whatever else we did,” she said. “We believed that community mattered. We were becoming community and supporting one another.”

Pastor Rich Fangman of the Zion Lutheran Church in Sunbury said that community has always been important to him. “It’s always been very important to me to look beyond the individual denominations and be aware of other worshiping communities and support and care for one another,” he said.

With their focus on building and supporting the community, the religious leaders set out to start The Takery. “The Takery is Nina’s baby. She thought what if we had a place where people could get just a bit of sweetness in their life,” Evans said.

What began as a monthly gathering with free baked goods four years ago, has grown into an opportunity for those in need to get essential items. “It has grown from a bakery to being a full-service food pantry,” Evans said. “We skip only if there is danger to us, like a storm. People don’t stop being hungry.”

The Takery also offers fresh, home-cooked meals. Evans said Ian Speck and his wife joined the group and offered to cook. “My wife and I had more time with the kids out of the house, so we started preparing the meals. We make 60-75 meals every month,” Speck said.

Previous meals have featured mac and cheese and pierogies and pasta, according to Speck. “In the summer months, we had cookouts. I bought hotdogs and a grill ... and we made everything there,” he said. “It was a huge success. We plan to do it again next year.”

As the weather grows colder, The Takery offers blankets and coats for those in need as they are available. “My bedroom is filled up with blankets and, sometimes, coats. We do what we can with what we get,” Evans said.

“We get anywhere from 35 to 60 people, depending on the day,” Fangman said. “Most people come right away and we have a line waiting at 4 o’clock.”

Evans said, “Those who come are also those who help. When we show up with stuff, there are people waiting to carry and set up.”

According to its organizers, The Takery is a gathering that breaks barriers and forges bonds. “It’s all about bringing the community together,” Fangman said. “We want to cross the barriers that we put up between those who are different.”

“When you live in a large community, clergy in one denomination tend to hang out with those in the same denomination,” Evans said. “But we learn more about others because we get to work with one another.”

As The Takery continues to grow, there are several ways to get involved. “It would be a great place to have other organizations who provide services, like medical support,” Evans said. “We are not an official organization, but we are grateful for donations.”

Evans said the group could use help running their social media. “Getting the word out about what’s needed and getting people to help is always a problem,” she said. “We could use support in social media operations.”

There is a place in this group for anyone who believes in strengthening the community, its leaders said. “We are not a well-defined organization,” Fangman said. “We are people who have a common interest in reaching out to the community.”

“We believe in helping others. It’s just a good feeling,” Evans said.

Those involved in The Takery benefit just as much from the organization as those in need, according to Evans. “I can’t say enough about how fun it is, we are grinning all the time,” Evans said. “There’s nothing else like looking down the street and having someone walk up and say, ‘will you pray with me?’”

To get involved in The Takery, email Ann Evans at ann@annkeelerevans.org or go to Cameron Park in Sunbury on the third Thursday of the month from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

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