Volunteer Sherry Jenckes, at right, helps sign out medical equipment Tuesday from the medical lending effort at the Old South Church in Farmington. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — Old South Church of Farmington now houses Annie’s Beanpole, a medical equipment lending library. Through this service, the church supplies medical equipment free of charge to those in need.

There are no fees or due dates; borrowers simply sign the waiver and the equipment can be used for as long as needed. Sherry Jenckes, a volunteer, said the inventory includes crutches, walkers, hospital bed rails, wheelchairs, ramps, shower seats, grab bars, tub rails, glucometers and more.

“We are trying to get the word out that we exist,” Jenckes said. “We are here. And we also need products.”

Jenckes, along with Mardy Bogar, another volunteer, recently shared insights into the church’s various ministries. Jenckes offered a comprehensive tour of not just Annie’s Beanpole, but other initiatives flourishing at Old South Church. The first stop was a ministry to offer people essential items like soap.

“We started it last June; we are working on what hours are best and what resources and products,” Jenckes said, as she led the way to the Essentials Closet. The closet, adorned with delicate lights, offers essential support to the community. “Folks can just come and tell us what they need. We have some guidelines, like one item per person, unless it’s something like a family that needs toothbrushes. We are narrowing down what people most need,” she added.

The Essentials Closet has basic items, including laundry detergent, dish soap, feminine hygiene products, razors, toothbrushes, toilet paper, diapers, adult incontinence products and socks. There is a set-up of books and crayons for children while the parents pick up some items. Low-income families are encouraged to visit the Essentials Closet for free personal care products once each month.


The Coat Closet is open during the same hours as the Essentials Closet. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

Bogar highlighted the significance of community support. “The Rotary has helped us, and the Church of Latter-Day Saints, they have really been instrumental in getting us off the ground,” she said. Their collaborative efforts have propelled these ministries forward, ensuring their sustainability and impact, she said.

The Coat Closet is another popular outreach. The church’s youth group plays an important role, managing the effort to ensure that winter clothing is readily available for those in need. It is much more than a closet, with a big room with coats and hats on display. Jenckes credited the outgoing youth director, Jody Gunther, for her role in organizing donations and setting up the closet, which is typically open on two dates in the fall.

“We have a really good group of volunteers,” Bogar said. “We have up to 200 people on the advertised days for the Coat Closet. The Coat Closet is also open on the days we open the Essentials Closet.”

Reflecting on the broader impact of their work, Jenckes said, “The concept is not to provide anyone or any family with all the essential care products that they need all the time, but to supplement their needs when they are trying to get through the month.” She said this philosophy underscores the church’s commitment to addressing the immediate needs of the community.

In addition to these ministries, Old South offers a range of services, including a free community lunch and a warming center during colder months. Despite challenges, such as lower attendance at the warming center this year, Jenckes said the church remains steadfast in its mission to provide aid and comfort to those in need.

In another food ministry outreach, Gunther oversees the monthly Pancakery brunch. The Pancakery is a community event offering free food and live music after worship. Youth volunteers wait on tables and assist in the kitchen, with parents pitching in too.


A monthly community lunch provides a hearty meal with takeout options. Jenckes said both meals foster socialization and camaraderie.

“The way we have this program set up with the volunteer rotation works really well,” Jenckes said. “Each person takes a half of the month, and everything is by appointment, so each volunteer and individual who needs something can agree on a time that works for both of them.”

The Essentials Closet was started last June. Rebecca Richard/Franklin Journal

As Annie’s Beanpole and the Essentials Closet continue to evolve, Jenckes said the dedication of volunteers ensures that these resources remain accessible to those who need them most.

Old South Church is at 235 Main St. in Farmington. The Essentials Closet is open the second Monday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and the fourth Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m., including Wednesday, April 24.

Annie’s Beanpole, the medical equipment lending library, can be accessed by calling the church at 207-778-0424 for more information. Donations of quality gear are appreciated, especially wheelchairs.

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