Manifesting the theme “Sharing is Caring,” the children at Henrytown Lutheran Church recently took on a project to create a Blessing Box to ensure that the families, church members and non-church members in their community do not go hungry.
A Blessing Box is an honor system food pantry where people who are in need can anonymously take food. Also, this is an easy way for those who want to help others in need, as they fill the box with everything from non-perishable food to toiletries. Food pantries have limited hours of operations, whereas Blessing Boxes are open 24/7, 365 days a year when Blessing Box clients are hungry. Blessing Boxes are considered neutral zones.
The theory under which Blessing Boxes operate, “Take What You Need, Leave What You Can,” is boldly printed on the front of every Blessing Box.
The theme for this year’s Sunday School curriculum at Henrytown is “Sharing is Caring.” A Blessing Box is an activity to teach children of all ages what Sharing is Caring means.
The box at Henrytown was built by a church member, Lyle Morey. He explains, “I do a lot of craftwork, craft building, and such, and my name got brought up.”
Morey built the box from a picture, and after settling on the dimensions, he began working on it. He worked on the box off and on for two weeks.
“I think it is a good idea as long as it is used properly. The biggest thing is up here where it is cold you can’t place any canned goods in it in the wintertime,” shared Morey.
A Thrivent grant was used to purchase the supplies to build the box. In addition, Morey donated his time and talent to make the box.
Between 17-20 children from the Mabel, Canton, Rushford, and Lanesboro area attend Sunday School at Henrytown. The children were responsible for decorating the outside of the box with their handprints. The children had a good time decorating the box because a couple of months later, they knew what color their prints are, and which ones on the box are theirs.
The box was installed outdoors in front of the Henrytown Lutheran church at 36190 County 18, located minutes north of Canton, before the first day of Sunday School this past September. The box was unveiled on the first day of Sunday School.
Even the youngest church member Kinnick was able to help with the Blessing Box. Kinnick’s handprint can be found on the outside of the box.
The children shared their thoughts:
Reagan – “We helped put food in the box and put our handprint on the box. I put cereal, Cheerios, and cans in the box. The Blessing Box is for people who need it. If they can’t afford food, they can stop by and grab some.”
Maria – “We put our hands on it. We put our handprints on the box to show that we blessed God.” She noted that when she donates food, it will be spaghetti.
T.J. – “The Blessing Box is for people who can’t afford food. So, if you ever need any, you can definitely come by and grab some. It is meant for the people who can’t get food. Sometimes people think that it is embarrassing to do it, but it doesn’t really matter; you can still do it.”
Cashton – “I put my handprints on it. They are blue.” Cashton suggested putting his favorite food in the box – chicken nuggets. The kids all agreed they liked chicken nuggets, but they should not be placed in the box since they must be frozen.
Kinsley – “We put our handprints on it. They are blue.”
Kolton – The Blessing Box is for people who don’t have money. They can come here and get food.”
One student described what Sharing is Caring means to him. “If you share, you get good things in return.”
What should you know when donating food?
When donating items, please follow CDC handwashing guidance and disinfect the box interior and handles frequently.
All items should be new and unopened.
Buy canned foods with pull rings when available for easy opening.
These items can only be left in the box when temperatures are above freezing: canned soups, canned meats (tuna, chicken, etc.), spudding/jello cups, pancake syrup, canned fruit/vegetables, canned pasta sauce, shampoo, lotion, and dish soap.
Other suggested donations include non-perishable food items like canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, canned beans (especially garbanzo, chili and baked beans), crackers/granola bars, breakfast cereal (individual boxes/cups), cereals/instant oatmeal (cups/packets), dry soup (packets/cups), ramen, mac and cheese (cups/boxes), peanut butter and cracker packs, cheese and cracker packs, instant coffee singles, hot cocoa packets, Kool-Aid mixes, pastas (preferably in boxes), dry pasta sauce mixes, chips (individual bags), rice (white or brown), dried beans, boxed/bagged rice/noodle/potato dishes, seasoning packets, dry milk, baking and pancake mixes, jelly, peanut butter, nuts, and alternatives (almond butter, sunflower seed butter, coconut butter, etc.), condiments (ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, mayo), individual serving size items, infant formula, dry infant cereal, packaged protein drinks, dried fruit, and microwave meals/to-go meals and shelf-stable meal kits.
Blessing Boxes can also be stocked with personal items like deodorant, toothpaste, bar soap, wet wipes, razors, shaving cream, laundry soap powder (small boxes), toothpaste, toothbrushes, gloves, stocking hats, hand warmers, tissues, toilet paper, and feminine sanitary products.
Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed 100 people, then feed just one.” These children are a blessing to their community.