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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Blessing Box at First Presbyterian Church


Last updated 6/6/2023 at 10:34am

Vanessa Craigue and her husband Bobby constructed the Blessing Box at First Presbyterian Church in Orange

First Presbyterian Church in Orange has erected a Blessing Box to help provide assistance for needy residents in the city. The box is on the church's property located at the corner of Green Avenue and Ninth Street in downtown Orange.

The idea of a Blessing Box came to fruition through the efforts of the recently created Outreach Committee at First Presbyterian Church. The committee got strong support from its Pastor Bobby Daniel to create the box, then it accepted the permission from the local church's ruling body the Session to provide the box, and concluded by receiving the approval of the City of Orange to erect it.

Jo Lynn Mott serves on First Presbyterian's Outreach Committee, and she first got the idea for a container to hold donated items to be used as an outreach to the community after seeing a Blessing Box at a church where she lives in Bridge City and at other churches in mid-Jefferson County. Mott said, "Any non-perishable food can be donated, and I know the church in Bridge City they also have soaps, shampoos, deodorant, and any necessities that people may not have funds to purchase."

This provided the impetus for the committee to pursue the idea of having its own Blessing Box at First Presbyterian Church. Committee member Ron Rehfuss researched for a couple of weeks similar distribution boxes found elsewhere.

Rehfuss shared, "We came up with the design that Kiwanis International uses around the country, they probably have a thousand of them at various places. We just kind of adopted their basic design, and Kiwanis International calls their boxes a Little Free Food Pantry."

The idea of erecting small storage containers for people to donate items for anyone that had needs was picked up by several Catholic churches that installed similar boxes for helping people in their various parishes in the United States. A Catholic church in Fayetteville, Arizona is credited with probably being the first to have a Little Food Pantry started in March of 2016.

Assembly of God incorporated the idea in several of its churches including in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It was a church there that the term Blessing Box was first used to identify the container.

First Presbyterian Church in Orange adopted the same name for its box as suggested by Randy Branch a member on the Outreach Committee. Branch is also the mayor of the City of West Orange and indicated his city is working to design a sharing container which they plan to call a Blessing Box to be located in Seale-Alford Plaza near the city hall in West Orange.

Constructing the Blessing Box was based on examples found by Rehfuss and was handled by committee members Bobby and Vanessa Craigue at First Presbyterian Church. Bobby Craigue commented, "At first we thought it was going to be kind of small and wondered why others didn't build theirs any bigger, but when we lifted it up on the pole empty we thought this is a good size."

The final apparatus is 24 inches wide, 30 inches tall, and 12 inches deep. The box sits on a post lifting it 44 inches off the ground.

A sign prepared by OCARC is attached to the post. The sign reads BLESSING BOX. Take what you need. Give what you can. Above all, be blessed. First Presbyterian Church.

Donations to the Blessing Box are greatly appreciated. The door on the box can be easily opened and items put inside before closing the transparent front of the box.

Food items to be donated to the Blessing Box should be non-perishable such as:

Peanut Butter Canned fruit Canned Vegetables Instant Oatmeal Dried Beans Dried Fruit Beef Jerky Fruit roll ups Baby food Snacks Rice (Goldfish) Rice Quinoa Noodles Macaroni Cereal Pasta Soup Nuts Crackers Granola bars

Items not allowed in the Blessing Box are any product that has been opened or partially used, has a glass container, or has a container with no labels on it.

The Blessing Box at First Presbyterian Church in Orange is the first such box in the City of Orange. It is located near the Gillespie Building on Ninth Street where the church operates a soup kitchen between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM every Tuesday and Friday.

In Bridge City a Blessing Box is at St. Paul Methodist Church located at 1155 W. Roundbunch Road. The youth group at the church built the container over a year ago and members do their best to keep it filled with non-perishable food and other personal hygiene items.

Another Blessing Box can be found in Pinehurst. That Blessing Box is located across the street from Destiny Church at 3423 Martin Street.

The Blessing Box in front of the Orange Public Library holds donations for people but not food items

The Orange Public Library on Fifth Street in downtown Orange does have its own Blessing Box outside the front of the library. Instead of non-perishable food items it holds writing paper, pencils, pens, and other such supplies.


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