FORT WALTON BEACH—A Mary Esther couple is giving back to the community through a food pantry the two built at the Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church.


Bobby Whiten and his wife Jore first opened the Sophie Edwards food pantry on May 15.


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The pantry, named after the first name of Jore’s late grandmother and the middle name of Bobby’s grandfather, was filled with a collection of nonperishable goods, feminine hygiene products and water bottles.


Bobby said he plans to continue to stock the shelves until the day he sees the pantry completely untouched.


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“What do we sacrifice?” he asked. “To be completely honest, we sacrifice maybe stop going to Baskin Robbins for a while.”


Bobby and Jore have returned to restock the shelves about four times, but Bobby said community members have also donated as well.


“You can tell it’s infectious,” he said.


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Bobby said by around 2 p.m. of the opening day, the pantry was halfway empty.


“So we sat here for a moment, and we cried and said this is a real need,” Bobby said.


The pantry is open 24/7 and free for all those who are hungry. Bobby said the pantry can feed anywhere from five to 10 families at a time.


Giving back to the community is what Whiten and his wife are hoping to instill in their 2-year-old son, which is why he helped his father construct the pantry. They also added a shelving system into the pantry.


“What better to show him philanthropy,” Bobby said.


Bobby said he personally knows the struggle of being homeless, and he wants to help those going through similar situations.


“ I know what it means to take a can of baked beans, some rice and some Vienna sausage and eat for three days,” he said.