Increase of ‘Blessing Boxes’ in Wichita area and throughout Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Blessing boxes are popping up all over the country, including Kansas. Even though this community service has been going on for years, more and more box locations are helping more people in need.
Coming up on their five-year anniversary, City Council candidate Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton have been building and supplying blessing boxes across the state of Kansas from LaCrosse to Hutchinson and down to Cherryvale.
Co-founder of Paxton’s Blessing Box, Ballard said, “I’ve never experienced food a insecurity but now that we have this in front of our house and we see people use it every single day, I’ve realized that it is a huge issue even right here in our neighborhood.”
They’ve helped set up over 100 of these boxes filled with food and drinks, free for anyone who’s struggling to afford food.
“There’s no IDs, no lines, no questions and for us most importantly, no judgement,” said Ballard. “Everybody has something going on in their life that we know absolutely nothing about.”
SECD para support counselor, Tasha Schrant said, “If they come and wipe a box out, then we just look at it like, that was their need.”
Schrant is a support counselor at Harry Street Elementary. After two years of having a blessing box at her house, she realized there’s a strong need for one where she works.
“It’s an under-privileged neighborhood, so just working there it’s hard as a parent and a staff member to hear the stories of families needing food and parents not able to provide,” said Schrant.
On Tuesday, students at Harry Street Elementary are expecting to install a blessing box at their school. Schrant said students are so excited to be able to help their community.
Ballard said there are Paxton’s Blessing Boxes at nine different schools throughout Wichita and they’re all heavily used.
“Maybe it’s a kid who knows they’re not going to have a snack when they get home, they can grab one on their way to the bus,” said Ballard. “They could certainly take whatever they want and they literally just take what they need.”
One story Ballard will always remember, is meeting a little girl at a food drive. “She was with her grandma and she said, ‘Hey I know about these,’ she’s like, ‘My mom used to get food for us from the boxes but now we don’t have to do that anymore’,” said Ballard.
While Schrant remembers a mom who left a note in her blessing box, asking if women’s items could be supplied in the box. “She was needing just toiletries and undergarments for a job interview. She got our [reply] note and she came to the door and really we had a moment together, just mother to mother,” said Schrant.
These blessing boxes rely on donations with the hope that able community members will restock the shelves when they can.
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