WASHINGTON — Like so many during the pandemic, D.C. local Tri Trinh found his small business, Hot Pink Photobooth, devastated by the guidelines enacted due to COVID-19. With all his newfound free time, he decided to give back to the community.
In October, he took on multiple successful coat drives in Brookland. Soon after, he realized another need in his community: helping people keep food on their tables.
“Food is such an essential need for us. And during these hard times, you know, people might not be able to afford food right now, especially people who are unemployed and facing other hardships,” Trinh explained.
After Trinh coordinated with local Bluebird Sky Yoga studio owner, who provided a space in Brookland where he could set up shop, he bought a few shelves and got his food pantry started with the help of his little sister. He posted on social media asking everyone to send non-perishable food. Soon, he was getting 30 to 50 boxes a day.
The pantry is open 24/7 for anyone to take whatever they need. No sign-in, identification or conversation is necessary.
“I got the idea from those little free libraries where people leave books. It’s that same concept, but a little larger,” he explained.
“I think that's really important for some people because this might be the first time experiencing unemployment or going through a hardship,” Trinh said of his inspiration to keep the pantry simple and anonymous. “Some people might have pride; they might not want to get in line to go to a food bank.”
Soon, Trinh started his own nonprofit, called WithKindnessDC, along with a GoFundMe so that it would be even easier for locals to help him keep the food pantry afloat.
Now, his goal is to keep expanding the pantries until there’s one at every public library in D.C. to help make all locals’ lives a little easier.
“Just showing a little kindness to each other really can change someone's day.”
Visit Trinh’s food pantry at 3101 12th Street Northeast, Washington D.C.