BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) — A South Carolina organization is encouraging people to give back to those in need as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.
The Lowcountry Blessing Box Project has been working to fight food insecurity across the region for the past three years. Founder Katie Dahlheim tells WSAV.com NOW that she was inspired by an Arkansas woman who had placed a Little Free Pantry outside her home.
“I thought that it was such a great idea,” the Charleston, South Carolina resident said. “It’s basically, you know, a Little Free Library, except for food.”
She adopted the concept and brought it to the Lowcountry, building her first four boxes out of old cabinets.
After getting the word out on Facebook, the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project eventually expanded.
The organization recently added its 125th Blessing Box, located on Hilton Head Island. There are now two boxes there and three in Beaufort.
The idea of the Blessing Boxes is simple: leave what you can, take what you need.
People in communities across the Lowcountry build and maintain the boxes, keeping them stocked with nonperishable food items and basic toiletries.
“We try to encourage people to donate things you can make meals out of, or think in terms of what kids will eat because there’s a lot of parents that need help right now,” Dahlheim said.
“Kids are not in school, they’re not getting those meals like they normally do, so things like cereal, peanut butter and jelly, crackers and soup all are great things to donate. Anything that would be a blessing that is nonperishable is welcome in the boxes,” she said, adding that even pet food is welcome.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dahlheim says people might be needing help now more than ever.
“Right now, so many people are laid off of work, so I think people who had been donating maybe now are going to be receiving some items, and vice versa,” she said.
The beauty of the Blessing Box, she said, is that you can help others or receive help if you need it — and it’s all anonymous.
“You don’t need to fill out any forms, you don’t have to qualify, it’s just whatever you need today,” Dahlheim said.
She noted that one of the benefits of the boxes, especially in the current climate, is they allow people to help and be helped while still practicing social distancing.
“You can put things in the box and not have to touch any other person or come in contact with them, but you’re still helping,” she said.
While the term “Blessing Box” may have religious connotations, Dahlheim says the idea of the project isn’t tied to any particular set of beliefs.
Kindness and giving back, she says, is universal.
“I believe that if you make it easy for other people to be kind, they will do that, and I think this project has proven that, because we have grown so much in three years that it really has been a surprise to me that so many people are participating,” Dahlheim said. It’s very cool to watch.”
Adding your own Blessing Box
She says anyone is welcome to build or add a Blessing Box to their community, but she would encourage them to check their area first to see if there’s already one nearby.
“We have Google Map [of Blessing Box locations] that’s always updated, we have a list on our Facebook page and our website that is always kept up to date,” she said.
The organization also accepts monetary donations.
“We’ve been using them to do online grocery orders to different grocery stores, and we have volunteers that will go to Publix, Harris Teeter or wherever we order from and pick them up, and then we will deliver them to the boxes that are near them,” Dahlheim said.
Learn more about the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project and how you can help by visiting their website here.