By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Turning Point Community Church has installed an outdoor blessing box.
The miniature pantry is located on the south side of the brick church, at the corner of South Main and Third streets. The white wooden box contains nonperishable food items that are available to anyone in need. On a recent sunny morning, the pantry held, among other things, cans of fruit and vegetables, macaroni and cheese, small boxes of raisins, a package of tortillas and cereal bars.
The blessing box was only recently put up but is already attracting attention, said church member Nicole McWilliams.
“We’ve had a lot of activity of people giving and people taking,” she said. “I was kind of surprised, but it is doing very, very well.”
McWilliams said she got the idea after reading about the little free pantry that was erected in front of Cakes for Heaven’s Sake on North Main Street last November.
“I was just blown away by the people who were taking from it. And it’s very close to my heart,” said McWilliams, explaining that her husband grew up without much. “I know the effects it can have … so I was like, we’re a church, what better way to give back than to put a little pantry like this in our yard.”
She approached church pastor Steve Rumschlag with the idea, about the same time he heard from Melissa Rogghe who also attends Turning Point. They then presented the idea at a church meeting where other members loved the idea.
“So everyone is behind the box,” said McWilliams. “The whole church is involved. The whole church is donating. We just kind of got it going.”
The women, along with fellow member Shannon Moyer, have taken charge of the blessing box, constructed by McWilliams’ husband, Scott. They had no building plans and her husband is not a woodworker, she laughed.
“We just started building and this is how it turned out,” she said.
The box is painted white. Across the front is a bright blue panel with the words “Blessing Box” printed in white. On the side is the phrase “Take what you need, leave what you can.”
They opted to place the box on the south side of the church so people can drive up to the curb on Third Street and easily take what they need or leave a donation.
The church also plans to collect paper products and toiletry items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs and brushes, lip balm, hand sanitizer, socks, Band-Aids, nail clippers and travel-size soaps and shampoos for blessing bags, as well as baby items like diapers and wipes. These items, while needed, aren’t covered by food stamps, the women explained.
Community members interested in donating these types of items may leave them on the church steps and then message the blessing box Facebook page. Nonperishable food items, meanwhile, can be placed directly into the box.
“We’re hoping to really help people. We’re hoping to really serve people and make sure that whatever their needs are, they’re met,” said McWilliams.
According to the women, this is one of the church’s missions.
“We love people that just come in off the street and are just real and genuine, so we want to offer things that help those in need,” McWilliams said.
The blessing box also features a “mailbox” for prayer requests. The mailbox is kept locked so only church members will see the requests.
“If you’re walking by and need us to pray for you, stick it in there … and we will pray for you every Sunday,” said McWilliams.
So far the public’s response has been positive. McWilliams created a blessing box Facebook page that received 300 likes and shares within 24 hours.
This winter, church members plan to collect items like hats, scarves and gloves for the box.
“We’re here to bless those that need it,” said Rogghe. “That’s what God’s told us to do is serve the community, serve those in need, and that’s what we want to do.”
The community is also welcome to attend Sunday services which begin at 11 a.m. A meal and fellowship time follow. The church is located at 1137 S. Main St., having moved from its previous location on Blanchard Avenue in January.
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