BY TABATHA RENEGAR
As you make your way around town, you have probably noticed charming little cabinets here and there containing food and other items. They are Blessing Boxes, a grassroots movement of neighbors helping neighbors by making non-perishable food available anonymously to folks who find themselves in need.
According to The Southeastern University Consortium for Food Security and Health, 17% of the population in Forsyth County is food insecure, meaning they are in the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In simpler, difficult terms, a large number of our neighbors don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We can only assume that this number is higher now due to the pandemic. Families who may have never found themselves worried about feeding their children are now struggling. The sad fact is, it only takes one “bad month” to plunge some households into food insecurity.
Blessing Boxes give us all the opportunity to support our friends and neighbors by stocking the shelves with non-perishable food items like canned soup, vegetables, as well as basic toiletries and baby supplies. And yes, even toilet paper! Every once in a while, you might even see a Blessing Box with dog or cat food to help those taking care of pets in addition to themselves. Items are anonymously donated and anonymously received.
Like many folks, you may have found yourself doing a little stockpiling as you’ve done your grocery shopping lately. How can you resist when Del Monte canned veggies are four for $2.00? Or, Uncle Ben’s rice is a BOGO? Sales on non-perishables give us the perfect opportunity to think about the Blessing Boxes and how we can help a neighbor find what they need in a dignified way. You can even keep a box in your trunk filled with various non-perishables so that when you come upon a box, you’re ready. Even adding one or two items can make a big difference.
The morning that I was assigned this article, I had just returned from walking my dog for the sole intent of taking some extra boxed stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potato packets to one of the Blessing Boxes near our house. (Yes, now you know what Thanksgiving looks like at my house.) As Norman and I approached the box, a woman pulled over and got out to take a look at what was inside. I hesitated a little – unsure if I should leave her be or let her know I was about to add more. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable in any way. Norman decided for me by giving a little squeak to catch her attention in hopes of the adoration he so craves. She commented on his cuteness, and I thanked her and said that I was about to add some more items if she had a minute. She put what was in her hand in her car while I added our items to the box, and then we began to walk on. She said “thank you,” and I said “it’s my pleasure, friend” and Norman and I continued on.
Although the exact origin of these boxes is unknown, whomever named them Blessing Boxes was a genius. Being able to open those little doors and place something inside is one of the greatest blessings on Earth.
Here is a short list of just a few of the Blessing Boxes in our community:
Lewisville United Methodist Church, 6290 Shallowford Road, Lewisville
Shiloh Lutheran Church, 703 Lewisville Vienna Road, Lewisville
New Philadelphia Moravian Church, 4440 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem
Ardmore Moravian Church, 2013 West Academy Street, Winston-Salem
Habitat Restore Lewisville, 6499 Shallowford Road, Lewisville
Ardmore UMC, 630 South Hawthorne Road, Winston-Salem
First Baptist Church, 405 North Main Street, High Point
Friedburg Moravian Church, 2178 Friedberg Church Road, Winston-Salem
Horizons Residential Care Center, 5900 Bethabara Park Boulevard, Winston-Salem & 101 Horizons Lane, Rural Hall
St. Paul United Methodist Church, 2400 Dellabrook Road, Winston-Salem
South Fork Elementary School, 4332 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem