Two “Blessing Boxes” have popped up in Surry County, providing a simple way to connect those who want to give to those in need.
One is located outside the Dobson Town Hall on Main Street, and the other is located at 1105 W. Pine St., Mount Airy, outside of Mayberry Heating & Air Conditioning.
The idea is akin to the familiar convenience store “have a penny, leave a penny; need a penny, take a penny” trays and a close relative to the Little Free Libraries located throughout the county.
Each “Blessing Box” consists of a wooden cupboard placed on a post. Anyone with the means and the desire to contribute food items is welcome to place them inside at any time. Anyone with a need is welcome to help themselves to the contents, easily visible through a glass door.
As the saying painted on the Mount Airy box reads: “Take what you need, bring what you can, above all be blessed.”
Nicole Jenkins, of Dobson, took the initiative to have the boxes installed.
She and her husband, Chad Jenkins, had recently wrapped up a series of bi-monthly community dinners dubbed “Feeding the Hungry.”
“We gave it a good year,” Nicole Jenkins said. “We felt at this point it was time to move on to a new journey.”
Her aunt in Florida came across a “Blessing Box” and passed along the idea.
“She knows my heart,” Jenkins said of her aunt. “She knows how we are about this.”
Nicole reached out to Sgt. Jimmy Gillespie of the Dobson Police Department, who built the Dobson box, and Jimmy Selba, the owner of Jimmy’s Used Cars on Starlite Road. Selba built the Mount Airy box along with Lisa and Velvet Selba.
Both have been full of things like water bottles, canned goods and dried beans, emptied and refilled repeatedly since they were placed.
“The community just stepped up,” said Nicole, discussing the many benefits the boxes provide.
“If they feel the need, then they just do it on their own will,” she said. “It’s for anybody who is hungry or homeless, or for the construction workers working on the side of the road and need a snack.”
For those on either of the giving or receiving end, “this gives them the opportunity without going through the system. They don’t have to ask anybody. Day or night, it’s always unlocked.”
Some had warned Jenkins that some folks would take advantage of the free food.
“There’s going to be those people,” she was told, but that hasn’t proved to be the case.
“Neither location has been taken advantage of,” she said, noting that more boxes could be in the works for the county.
“A lot of people have asked me about getting other locations,” said Jenkins. “My advice is to go to local businesses, police departments, firemen. That’s basically what I did; I asked around.”
In the meantime, Jenkins is proud of a community taking care of its own.
“It’s a blessing beyond,” she said. “Surry County rocks.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.