We surveyed Holston Conference social-media followers for quick tips that could help other congregations who are considering installing or already supporting blessing boxes on their properties.
Most popular foods?Easy-open cans of baked beans, spaghetti, chili, soups and meat of any kind are most popular, according to most of our respondents. Several mentioned that single-serve and microwavable containers are preferable.
In the blessing box at Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church in Powell, Tennessee, boxes of cereal are the first to go, according to Riley Shover.
At First United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee, neighbors are apparently delighted when they open the blessing box to find pancake mix and syrup (taped together), coffee and fresh bread, says Sara Gregory.
Least popular foods?Cans of vegetables are most likely to be left behind, especially carrots, beans, and pumpkin, several suppliers said.
At McFerrin United Methodist Church in Church Hill, Tennessee, packages of rice are the least-picked, says the Rev. Dave Poore. Rice is also a no-go at Fountain City United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, says Patricia McMahon.
In Belspring, Virginia, cans of fruit are wallflowers at Belspring United Methodist Church. At First United Methodist in Maryville, people are less fond of corn muffin mix and macaroni and cheese boxes.
Restocking: How often?Of 13 churches responding to the survey, about half said their blessing boxes are so busy they have to be restocked every day. Others said two to three times a week.
Something special at Christmas?
- Hats, mittens, candy canes -- Fountain City UMC, Knoxville, Tenn.
- Warm hats and gloves – Greenwood UMC, Greeneville, Tenn.
- Extra food -- Kodak UMC, Kodak, Tenn.
- "Filled the box to the brim" -- Mountain View UMC, Kingsport, Tenn.
- Canned hams – First UMC, Maryville, Tenn.
- Bags with canned hams, sweet potatoes, extra veggies – McFerrin UMC, Church Hill, Tenn.
- "No, but that’s a great idea for next year." – Belspring UMC, Belspring, Va.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.
POWELL, Tenn. -- Riley Shover and her family used to help stock the mini outdoor food pantry at the Presbyterian church across town. Then Shover got the idea to build a “blessing box” in front of her own church as part of a Girl Scout project. This...