By Shawn Chitnis

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A new twist on a popular national trend hopes to help the hungry.

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(credit: CBS)

The idea of replacing books you give and take from a little free library is replaced with food for a small pantry outside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Colfax Avenue.

“There’s a tremendous need for this,” said Sandy Rothman, the director of special projects for Aurora Gateway Rotary. “I hate to see people hungry.”

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Sandy Rothman (credit: CBS)

Rothman oversees the project, a small blue and yellow trimmed box that is located behind the library. It has two levels of shelves inside behind a clear door.

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(credit: CBS)

He built the box and applied for grants to pay for supplies and the food that it stores for the community. Both the local and regional Rotary clubs helped fund the first box.

“The only problem that we have in filling it every day is the cost,” he said. “Once we have the ability to buy food at a lower cost, then this will be filled every day.”

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(credit: CBS)

The club saw the idea in another state and decided they need to bring this concept to their community. They also include pet food and plan to provide school supplies and accessories as the seasons change.

The City of Aurora selected the location that is near a low income housing building and the homeless often spend the day by the library.

“My biggest takeaway is that it’s working so well,” said Rothman.  “I’m thrilled that I see an empty box, every time I get here.”

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(credit: CBS)

The next location will be a Boy Scout project, and there are already plans for a third location.

The box can keep food cool, but during the warmer months, they are avoiding food that will spoil. Canned vegetables, pasta, as well as juices and waters are often stocked in the pantry.

“I’m even more thrilled when I see something in the box that I didn’t put there,” said Rothman. “Which means we’re getting help.”

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The box is not supposed to take the place of food shelters, but rather hopes to complement the work they do and provide an option at all hours for the community.

People can provide food they know won’t perish in the box or give cash donations to the Rotary club to help fund the first pantry or future boxes.

“This doesn’t touch the tip of the iceberg. It’s a help for people that are in this area that know of it,” he said. “In this area of Aurora, you can have one on every corner and you still won’t feed everybody.”

LINK: Aurora Gateway Rotary Club Food Pantry

Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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