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‘Blessing Box’ Craze Continues To Grow As Way To Help the Needy

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ChicagoTribune.com

ChicagoTribune.com

Based on the idea of “little free libraries” that make books more readily available to people, “Blessing Boxes” have become the latest trend in terms of helping the needy on a small scale, and the movement is quickly sweeping the nation.

The idea of a “Blessing Box” is to put non-perishable foods and personal care items in a small outdoor cabinet, so that anyone in need of those items can take them free of charge. They can be placed near homes, businesses, or places of worship, just about any place where people have easy access to them.

Arkansas resident Jessica McClard is credited by most with starting the trend several months ago with what she called a “little free pantry.” She has found that items placed there for the needy are quickly taken and utilized, particularly in the evening.

“We’re all short on time and money, and this is a way that people can feel like they are making a difference,” McClard says, believing that the simplicity of the idea has helped it spread to states throughout the country.

In Wichita, Kansas, Maggie Ballard has dubbed the one near her houses as a “Blessing Box.” Ballard was initially restocking the box as necessary and providing all the food herself, but others soon caught on and began donating items to the makeshift pantry.

“I felt like this is something that I could do — something small that you know, would benefit so many people so long as the word got out about it,” Ballard says.

Religious affiliation is not a requirement for a “Blessing Box,” but many places of worship have taken to the idea. For instance, in Aurora, Illinois, Jen Charapata and her three daughters (pictured) dedicate a “Blessing Box” that’s 20 inches high, 30 inches wide, and a foot deep to a local church.

Anyone with modest wood working skills and a little bit of time can create a “Blessing Box,” and anyone whose able to afford a little extra food that’s non-perishable or a couple extra personal care items can contribute to one.

The boxes can be found in at least a handful of states, and as long as people are willing make small sacrifices, there’s no reason why the trend can’t continue and become a nationwide phenomenon aimed at helping the needy.