Hawkins United Methodist Church mini food pantry provides blessing to neighborhood

Published 4:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2021

Hawkins United Methodist Church has established a new blessing for the surrounding neighborhood.

The Blessing Box, a two-door cabinet containing food and personal items, was installed about two weeks ago to provide help for those in the community who may need a meal.

“We’re just very excited that we’re able to offer this to the community,” Hawkins UMC pastor, the Rev. Austin Hoyle, said. “We’ve had some really good donations over the past several years for our church’s food pantry and this is a way we can expand that for any person who would need that type of assistance.”

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The Blessing Box was the idea of church member Lucy Young.

“It’s an idea that has been around for some time,” she said. “Here in the Vicksburg community, it’s another way to reach out to do missions through providing for those who may need something when our food pantry is not open or available.

“We have a church pantry, but it is only available if somebody comes by the church when the church office is open, so that limits access to that.”

Young said the box is stocked with nonperishable goods like canned goods, boxed items like macaroni and cheese, “Typical things that a person could easily prepare food from, and there are extras like personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste.

“Anything that will not require refrigeration or any kind of special care item is placed in there. We’ll keep it stocked and just see how it does, but we want it to be available to anybody who needs it.”

The box is supplied from the church’s pantry and by individual church members, Young said.

 “We’ve just begun doing that,” she said, “And we think our pre-school will get involved in providing some items. We plan to keep it fully stocked.”

Young pointed out the Blessing Box is not the first mini-pantry in the city. Crawford Street United Methodist, Mount Calvary M.B. Church and the Good Shepherd Community Center also have small cabinets holding food.

“We saw these other ideas and thought it (the church) would be an ideal place for us to have a blessing box,” she said. “Realizing there was nothing on our side of town where Hawkins is located and we’re on such a busy thoroughfare, we thought that it would be ideal.”

Young, who volunteers at the Storehouse Community Food Pantry, said Good Shepherd Director Cindy McCarley gave her a cabinet and Paul Barnes, another food pantry volunteer, helped her cut the cabinet down for the box.

“I took it home and refinished it and we placed it at the church,” she said.

The Blessing Box is based on a Bible verse from Luke 6:30: “Give and it will be given to you.” A sign over the box tells people, “If you have a blessing, leave it. If you need a blessing, take it.”

Because it has only been up a short time, church members are watching to judge the response to the box.

“It’s only been there about two weeks,” Young said. “It’s new to the area and we’re hoping that people will take advantage of it as need be.”

Some people have.

Young said three different people have stopped by to get items from the box. She said church members and workers in the church office check the box periodically to see what’s missing “and we’ll begin to notice items people prefer and try to use some reasoning on what type of items to have in it.

“It’s just another mission outreach by our church.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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