CASE STUDY: Establishing a Blessing Box

What do you do?

Our Chicago Ecclesia has set up a Blessing Box with basic needs for people affected by homelessness and food poverty. It is a small repurposed newspaper box which we refill weekly with food, water, bibles, socks, rain ponchos, granola bars, etc.  It is visible to those driving and walking by on Highland Ave. We have a big digital sign near the box, where we post bible verses as well as our church information. 

How much work is involved? How many volunteers are needed?

One sister takes care of asking for donations. We have 4 or more people who regularly fill the box.  It requires restocking at  least once a week, sometimes more. It is important to tell donors at the ecclesia what is practical- e.g. A one pound can of beans isn’t practical if it doesn’t come with a can opener.   Grab & go type items are best.

How long have you been doing this?

Our ecclesia has been doing this for about 8 years!

What’s the cost involved?

Just the cost of the Blessing box as all the items are donated. I saw the repurposed Newspaper box on Pinterest & bought it.  It was already painted. There are lots of ideas for building blessing boxes on Pinterest!

Have you had a good response? What impact did the project have on the volunteers and recipients?

There are two overnight homeless shelters located in the vicinity of our Blessing box. The box does get used on a daily basis, so it does fill a need for many people. Occasionally we get a note of thanks from recipients.  The volunteer team feels they are being helpful to our neighbours. Sometimes we ask the children to fill the box or bring donations so they can be included.  We want to help our neighbors in need and welcome them if they choose to come along to the church.

Are there any issues which have arisen?

We have containers in the box to hold the products and a couple of times the containers were taken.  I put a note out inside asking people to please not remove the containers. It is also necessary to check the expiry dates on items.

Anything else?

Adults and teens from our ecclesia have also enjoyed volunteering at Feed My Starving Children. This is a 501c3 non-profit in Minnesota, Illinois & Arizona. It involves hand packing meals of rice, dried veggies, and soybeans into boxes that are shipped overseas to areas of need. They were shut down by covid for a while  but have now organized a socially distanced & covid safe environment for small groups. I have included a photo of our group here.