Hawkins United Methodist Church preschoolers give ‘blessings’ for the needy

Published 4:00 am Sunday, November 27, 2022

The preschoolers at Hawkins United Methodist Church began their Thanksgiving holiday helping others.

On Nov. 21, the students helped restock the church’s Blessing Box near the church office with canned goods and non-perishable items, putting a new twist on the group’s annual Thanksgiving tradition.

“I had been told that for years the preschool does a service project in November and they collect food; they ask families to send a can or two of non-perishable items and usually they would donate them to the storehouse food pantry,” preschool director Pat Hahn said.

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“This year, when we were in our faculty meeting, our teachers suggested that we donate to the church, because we have the Blessing Box, and restock the blessing box,” she said. “They have quite a few families come, even on a daily basis, to get food out of the blessing box, so we just want to help the church keep food in there for those people who need it.”

Hawkins United Methodist Church established the Blessing Box, a two-door cabinet containing food and personal items, in September 2021 to provide help for those in the community who may need a meal.

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,” she added. “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 with food from the church’s pantry and by individual church members.

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.”

Young 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.”

The preschool children continued that outreach with a parade to the Blessing Box, where they stocked it with food. The leftover items were taken to the church’s food pantry.

“The church is having a food drive so we’re helping them out,” Hahn said.

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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