‘Take what you need, leave what you can’
SEABOARD – From the outside it looks like a simple purple box. Open the door, however, and you’ll see that the inside contains a lot more than expected.
The outdoor fixture, which can currently be seen in a few places around Northampton County, is a “Blessing Box” and it’s a part of a new outreach project from Purple Angel Foundation, a nonprofit food and clothing pantry in Seaboard. Each box has the phrase “take what you need – leave what you can” on the front to sum up the project goal.
“A blessing box is a mini-food pantry,” explained Karen Williams Brown, co-founder of the local organization. “The idea is that anyone walking by who may be struggling can use the goods to get through the day.
“Handmade with love and filled with nonperishable food and toiletries, the boxes are meant to provide for those in need,” she continued.
Anyone is welcome to leave items inside to stock the box, and anyone struggling should take what they need to feed themselves or their families.
When asked what was the inspiration for the boxes, Brown explained that “the need is there.”
“We are an emergency food and clothing provider. However, some residents aren’t able to make it to the pantry on distribution days,” she said.
The pantry is currently open for distribution on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, but those distribution hours will soon change to between 9 a.m. to 12 noon on the second Saturday of each month. And while they do occasionally make deliveries to needy families, they still aren’t able to get food out to everyone in need. Brown said the Blessing Boxes could help fill in those gaps.
The first Blessing Box was set up in August on the grounds of the Church of the Saviour, located at the corner of N. Church Street and W. Calhoun Street in Jackson.
“It was an amazing feeling to set the first box up. It’s our pleasure to do this for our community,” Brown said, adding thanks to the church for their partnership with the Purple Angel Foundation. “I know that this is just the beginning of something amazing.”
The second box is located outside of Seven Salon Studio & Cosmetic Care, 489 US Hwy 301, Garysburg. Brown said they’re already working on getting things ready to add a box to a site in Weldon as well as Pendleton.
“Our goal is to have a Blessing Box in every town in Northampton County,” she emphasized.
James Williams, who serves as assistant director and is Brown’s father, is the one who designed and constructed the boxes.
“I told him my idea and he created exactly what I wanted, if not better,” she said, noting his handiwork.
Brown said they will check in on the boxes each month, but “the success of the boxes depends on the generosity of the community around them.”
The cost to make, install, and fully stock a box is about $40-50 each, Brown estimated. Those interested in making monetary donations to assist the project can send PayPal donations through the website www.purpleangelfoundation.com or mail checks, gift cards, and money orders to P.O. Box 114, Seaboard, NC 27876.
Those wishing to send food donations can add items to a Blessing Box at any time or drop off donations at the main location in Seaboard (206 S. Main Street) every Tuesday between the hours of 10-11:30 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.
“We are in constant need of donations,” Brown said about stocking both the boxes and the pantry itself. “We are looking for donations of meats, canned meats, shelf stable drinks, beans and rice, just to name a few.”
In addition to this project, the Purple Angel Foundation is continuing their regular work to assist people in need as well as planning for future projects.
Their annual “Hope for the Holidays” event, which will begin on Nov. 11 and run through Dec. 15, will collect unused toys for children of all ages. During that event, they will also host food, clothing, and fund drives at various locations throughout Northampton County.
During the holiday season, the Foundation will also pick two Northampton County families to sponsor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with names of anyone who many need a little extra help during the holidays.
Brown also said the nonprofit organization is always looking for more volunteers, especially people who can handle administrative work, logistics, or fundraising.
For more information, visit their Facebook page or website or call 252-589-7777.