By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – A Blessing Box, installed Aug. 19 in the City Hall and Police Department parking lot, 3100 Oakwood Blvd., is ready to provide food, toiletries and hope to those in need.
The Widows Sons Riding Association, whose members are also Masons, installed the box and filled it, and hope informal generosity and the honor system will enable to be self-sustaining.
By installing the box near the police station, it will be on surveillance video, which they hope deters vandalism.
A Blessing Box operates in a manner similar to little lending libraries, and has “take what you need, give what you can” inscribed on the outside of the box.
Don “Peewee” Abele of Redford Township said he saw Blessing Boxes at gas stations when traveling out-of-state.
“We checked them out, and thought, ‘Wow! That is an amazing idea,’” he said. “Our president of our South Detroit Chapter, ‘Jumper,’ decided to see if we could make this happen up here in the metro Detroit area.”
Abele said Widows Sons is charity-based, they go on charity motorcycle runs together and they work on philanthropic projects year-round. He said the Blessing Box is a visible, ongoing way of helping others, which lets others help by donating items when they can.
“What better way to do this, in the way of charity, so the whole community can see it, and help out however we can?” he said. “Most of us are just blue-collar workers, trying to do what we can, with what little we have.”
Group president Robert “Jumper” Straub of Wyandotte said the project has been a while in the making, and he is glad to see it installed and stocked.
“It is good to be able to give back to the community a little bit,” he said.
The group hopes people in need will take what they need from the Blessing Box without feeling embarrassed. Those wishing to help replenish the box should consider donating non-perish foods, toiletries and personal hygiene products, like toothpaste – the everyday things people go without when money is tight.
Straub hopes the box, which is a garage tool cabinet they mounted on posts, is as weatherproof as intended. He said they will check it after its first rainstorm. They hope to install Blessing Boxes in other areas which could benefit from it.
Nina Straub of Wyandotte said it was a teachable moment for the children who helped them stock the Blessing Box with supplies.
“It is very important,” she said. “It gives them self-confidence, and lets them know that there are people out there who are not as fortunate as those of us here.”
To reach the Widows Sons with questions about the Blessing Box, email [email protected].
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)