‘Blessing Box’ meets after-hours needs in Dalton, Georgia

Jul 26, 2019 | by Brad Rowland

‘Blessing Box' meets after-hours needs in Dalton, Georgia

By: David Ibata

Kara Green and her classmates at City Park School in Dalton, Georgia, this past school year came up with the idea of a "Blessing Box" – a free repository of socks, bottled water, pop-top canned goods and hygiene items – as a community service project. But where to put it?

Kara said, "My Nana is the business manager at The Salvation Army. I'm sure they'd want the Blessing Box there."

Kara's grandmother, Patricia Thompson, a Dalton Corps employee, said, "Oh my gosh, that's perfect. There are so many people who come here after hours when we're closed. Even if they just need a bottle of water, we'll be there for them."

Members of the City Park School STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Club, an after-school organization for fourth-grade girls interested in engineering careers, were inspired by the Little Free Libraries ("Take a book, share a book") that have popped up around town.

They decided to apply the concept to help homeless neighbors and others in need. Their motto: "Take What You Need, Leave What You Can Give."

The girls designed the box, a blue-and-pink wooden cabinet with shelves and a glass-front door that opens. One of their mentors, Tom Springfield of Shaw Industries, a local carpet manufacturer, built the box using materials donated by Home Depot.

"Then, students at Dalton Middle School – nobody spoke to anybody over there, this was purely at act of God to make it all come together – decided to collect hygiene products in ‘Blessing Bags,' and they donated them to us," Thompson said.

Each bag contains pull-top cans of single-serve chili and soups, bottled water, a clean pair of socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo and body wash. The Salvation Army in Dalton now has materials to keep the Blessing Box filled. It sits outside the corps food center.

"In the evenings, two gentlemen who work at the food center stock it so it's ready for that evening or the weekend," Thompson said. "Of course, the community can donate as well. We're so excited; we had cans of vegetables donated the other night."

The box is appreciated. "We come back many days and find the boxes depleted. Kara and I came back here the other night – I had left my wallet in the office – and she got to see someone take something out of the Blessing Box, and I thought she was going to cry. She teared up and said, ‘Oh look, they're getting something out of the Blessing Box, they must need something.'"

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