Then Shover got the idea to build a “blessing box” in front of her own church as part of a Girl Scout project.
This Christmas, Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church is the site of a convenient, 24-hour food source for neighbors who need help in getting enough to eat.
“It’s very much anonymous,” says Shover, age 17. “You can take what you need and no one has to know.”
Church-supported blessing boxes are popular throughout the country, with numbers rising during the COVID-19 pandemic. The tiny grocery shelves in an outdoor box reduce the risk of virus exposure or the need to be available to pick up food during set pantry hours.
With her dad's help, Shover built and installed Mt. Hermon’s blessing box in the church parking lot to receive the “Gold Award,” the highest achievement bestowed by Girl Scouts of the USA.
The new blessing box was instantly utilized by the community, Shover reports, so much so that it has to be refilled every three or four days. “It’s exciting when I take things over and see only one box of cereal left.”
Her pastor, the Rev. Gregg Bostick, is so enthusiastic about her project, he created an Advent campaign to help build an inventory of nonperishable foods for the blessing box, Shover said.
- Advent week 1: Breakfast foods
- Advent week 2: Lunch foods
- Advent week 3: Dinner foods
- Advent week 4: Toiletries
Church members are responding with big donations. “I’m glad they want to participate,” Shover said. “It’s funny to see Gregg stacking and restacking the food we receive in perfect pyramids under the Christmas tree. I almost feel bad about taking the food away to put in the box.”
Shover said she is inspired to help feed her neighbors by her mother, “who has been service-oriented my whole life.” Part of the beauty of the blessing box is that it provides an opportunity for anyone in the community to help feed their neighbors, not just church members.
“It’s giving us an opportunity to share with people who are food insecure in a way that is not intrusive for them,” Bostick said. “It’s also an opportunity for the people who are served by the blessing box to give back once they’re on their feet.”
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.
Does your church have a "blessing box"? Many congregations are finding that the mini outdoor food pantries with a door are serving their communities more conveniently than in-house food pantries with set hours. We surveyed Holston Conference ...