Increase in “blessing boxes” in the Wichita area and throughout Kansas

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Blessing boxes are appearing across the country, including Kansas. Although this community service has been around for years, more and more box locations are helping more people in need.

As their fifth birthday approaches, Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton have built and supplied blessing boxes throughout the state of Kansas, from LaCrosse to Hutchinson and all the way to Cherryvale.

Paxton’s Blessing Box co-founder Maggie Ballard said, “I’ve never experienced food insecurity, but now that we have it outside our house and see people using it every day, I realized this is a huge problem even here in our neighborhood.

They’ve helped set up over 100 of these boxes full of food and drink, free for anyone struggling to eat.

“There are no IDs, no lines, no questions and for us, most importantly, no judgment,” Ballard said. “Everyone has something in their life that we know absolutely nothing about. “

SECD Support Advisor Tasha Schrant said, “If they come to erase a box, then we just look at it like they need it.”

Schrant is a support counselor at Harry Street Elementary. After two years of having a blessing box in her home, she realized that there was a strong need for one where she worked.

“It’s a poor neighborhood, so it’s difficult, as a parent and as a staff member, to hear the stories of families in need of food and of parents unable to provide food,” said Schrant.

Students at Harry Street Primary School expect to set up a blessing box at their school on Tuesday. Schrant said the students were excited to be able to help their community.

Ballard said there are Paxton Blessing Boxes at nine different schools in Wichita and they are all heavily used.

“Maybe he’s a kid who knows he won’t have a snack on the way home, he can have one on the way to the bus,” Ballard said. “They could certainly take whatever they want and they literally take what they need.”

One story Ballard will always remember is meeting a little girl at a food drive. “She was with her grandmother and she said: ‘Hey, I know about it’, she said:” My mother used to give us food in the boxes, but now we don’t have to do it anymore “, Ballard said.

While Schrant remembers a mom who left a note in her blessing box, asking if any women’s items could be provided in the box. “All she needed was toiletries and underwear for a job interview. She has our [reply] note and she came to the door and we really had a great time together, just mother to mother, ”Schrant said.

These blessing boxes rely on donations in the hope that knowledgeable members of the community will restock the shelves when they can.

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