An attractive red Blessing Box now stands on the corner of Houston and Crawford in Palestine, an outreach to the community, courtesy of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
The simple wooden box, roughly three feet high and two feet wide, with doors of wood and glass, sits on a wooden pole, waiting to assist those in need. It is filled with donated, free, nonperishable foods and personal hygiene products, including canned goods, bread, cereal, detergent, diapers, and lotion.
Anyone in need may use the goods to make ends meet or get through the day. The pantry, installed about two weeks ago, relies on donations from the community.
If you have an item to donate, just open the door and put it in.
Father Jason Briggle, the church’s rector, said the project stems from community conversations, the amount of downtown foot traffic, and the lack of a local place that is open round-the-clock to help people in need.
“One person cannot meet all the needs out there,” Briggle said. “You have to figure out what need you can meet that's different from the need some other organization can meet.”
The Blessing Box slices through some of the off-putting bureaucracy and red-tape that often confronts people seeking assistance.
“We aren’t taking pictures of anyone; we are not taking applications, names – none of that,” Briggle said. “It’s a way to remove some barriers in place at other locations and say, 'Anytime, any day. If there is something there you need, just take it. If there is something you want to leave that you think will be useful to someone else, then leave it.' “
The idea for the pantry came from a group of church's members.
“There are some people in our congregation that feel very passionate about this – one in particular,” Briggle said. “They approached the vestry, got approval, and then got approval from the city to place the box in its current location.
“It’s just a matter of someone deciding to use this little piece of real estate and open it up for the community.”
The idea for the Blessing Box came from Little Free Pantry, developed from the Little Free Library. The boxes are part of a grassroots solution to immediate and local need. The nearest one to our community is in Rusk.
“People are really excited about this project,” Briggle said. “We are doing something with the love we have for humanity to make a difference in people’s lives. That's our hope.”
The box will never hold the same items twice, except by happenstance.
“There is no schedule to fill the box,” Briggle said. “There are no set items to provide. The key is to think of things that are useful to others, not cast off items they can’t use.”