Free Blessing Box provides aid to community, celebrates year anniversary

Kiley Wellendorf Staff
Robin Burke (right) and Jennifer Wilson (left) put together the Blessing Box in Nov. of 2016. The group, along with Melanie Tolle, now assist in the filling of the Blessing Box. FILE PHOTO/THE PERRY CHIEF

Issue: There is a continuous need for resources such as food items for local families in Perry.

Local Impact: The Blessing Box is refurbished weekly by community members and family members are able to anonymously take items from the box as a way to provide for themselves.

Perry’s Blessing Box turns one-year-old this month. The wooden box stands tall in the parking lot of the Dallas County Hospital and the non-perishable items inside come with an open door policy.

“This is the only blessing box in town,” said Robin Burke, Clinical Nurse at Mercy and Co-Creator of Perry’s Blessing Box.

Burke had seen a mailbox where people left money cards inside, as well as other donations, and felt inspired by the idea.

“They were all over Facebook at the time,” added Jennifer Wilson, fellow Blessing Box volunteer.

The idea of giving back later morphed into a blessing box built by coworkers from the hospital, Dr. Steven Sohn and Joe Warnock of Perry.

Today, the box is stocked with free, weather-appropriate, non-perishable food items.

“We’ve put things in there before and had to go out the same day and take them out the night before we go home,” Burke explained. “This time of the year we try to keep more food in there.”

Everyone is welcome to utilize the box and the process is anonymous.

The anonymity surrounding the box has never been taken advantage of, however.

“They [those who use the box] don’t just go out there and empty it every day,” Wilson said.

Burke was in the process of filling the box when she was approached about it.

“There was a Saturday that this gentleman came up and I said ‘Just take what you need on the cart before I put it in there,’ and he would only take two items,” Burke explained. “They’re not taking whole weeks worth of items.”

The box has never been damaged either.

“People didn’t come in, empty it and break it,” Burke said. “It’s really nice to see.”

Throughout the past year, Burke, Wilson and Melanie Tolle from Mercy Clinic have all helped keep the box stocked. The Blessing Box is typically refilled every two weeks, the group explained.

“I’ve taken my kids grocery shopping specifically just for that [filling the box] and they loved it,” said Tolle. “They got so excited.”

Tolle said her kids enjoy picking out items for the box and giving feedback about what other children might want to have at home.

Shopping for items has been a lesson for all families involved, the group explains.

“Our kids appreciate what they have because they see that other kids don’t have that,” Wilson said. “It just makes you feel good.”

Donations have trickled in from churches, groups in the hospital, members from the community, and more recently the Bock Foundation.

Mercy Clinic recently received $2,500 dollars from the Bock Foundation which will all go towards funding items for the Blessing Box.

The Blessing Box is located in the parking lot of the Dallas County Hospital and donations can be simply put in the box. The process is anonymous and those who wish to utilize the box are able to pick what they need.