After hearing about the concept of a “blessing box,” John and Brittany Wade of Holts Summit thought miniature pantries would be great assets for the community.
Blessing Boxes are filled with non-perishable food, hygiene products, school supplies, and anything else that could be considered a blessing for someone in need. Anyone in the community can donate or collect items from the boxes.
John and Brittany used pantries growing up and reportedly benefited from a blessing box at their schools, Brittany said. Now they have a lot of extra food and supplies so they wanted to give back to those in need.
“I didn’t know until I was older that my mom used pantries, but if I had known I probably would have worried and tried to find a way to get some food from a one way or another, ”Brittany said. “If I had had one in school, I could have taken stuff home. “
After talking about it for a while, Brittany and John decided one day to finally bring their vision to life. Each box costs over $ 120 for materials and supplies, so Brittany set up a Facebook fundraiser to help pay for a blessing box, believing they would make just one.
But the project quickly took off from there. In three hours, they had raised enough money to build three. In March, they built and installed Blessing Boxes at Callaway Hills Elementary School, North Elementary School, and A Place to Grow Daycare.
As they set up one, Brittany joked about setting one up at every school in the Jefferson City School District, knowing it was an ambitious goal. But Ashley Varner, executive director of the JC Schools Foundation, urged her to go.
Brittany started another fundraiser on Facebook and she quickly exceeded her goal of $ 2,000.
“It didn’t take long before it skyrocketed,” John said.
Using the money they raised, the Wades recently built and installed additional Blessing Boxes at Pioneer Trail Elementary Schools, Cedar Hill, Belair and Lawson, and Lewis and Clark Middle School.
John said they had enough money in donations to build and install around 14 more boxes.
Their goal was to install them in all schools in the Jefferson City School District, especially those with a high percentage of students eating free or discounted lunches.
Principals at Capital City High, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, South Elementary School and Southwest Early Childhood Center said they were interested but are still deciding on a location, Brittany said.
Two school principals refused and she did not receive a response from the others, she said, so the Wades are interested in setting up Blessing Boxes in other places in the community.
Many people have sent donations of food and supplies to the Wades for the Blessing Boxes, so they replenish them from their Donation Shelf if they notice that a box could use more items.
The Wades ask you to use whatever you take, and if you have more, put it in the box.
“Our mission or goal is to make one less person have one less meal to worry about where it’s coming from,” Brittany said.
The list of Blessing Boxes is available on the Facebook group Callaway and Cole County Blessing Boxes. For more information on donating to Blessing Boxes or if you would like to install a Blessing Box in your business, email John Wade at [email protected]