A “Blessing Box” created by a local Girl Scout troop allows community members in need to take essentials such as canned food and personal hygiene items.
An anonymous letter put into the box, located outside St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church on West 43rd Street, speaks to the impact it is having.
“I just wanted to say thank you for the food you make available to me. I don’t know what I would do without it,” said the letter, which was shared on the Oak Forest Homeowners Association Facebook page. “I have cancer and no insurance or family. I am going through this alone. … I am a proud and independent person but I need help.”
Helping others was the purpose behind the “Blessing Box,” which resembles a large bird house. It was the brainchild of Girl Scout Troop 122278, which wanted to do something impactful while pursuing the Bronze Award, an honor that requires Girl Scouts to take action in their community.
“Some people don’t care,” troop member Ashlyn Jack said. “They need to see that people care.”
Troop member Grace Branum, 11, said the idea spawned from Backpack Buddies. That was the name of the troop’s food drive for non-perishable items last spring, when the scouts stocked backpacks for students at Highland Heights Elementary to take home over spring break.
Branum, Jack and fellow Girl Scouts Olivia Jack, Marissa Lugo and Mia Dominguez – who attend Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, Houston Can Academy, Baylor School at Ryan Middle and Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet – then started brainstorming ideas for the Bronze Award.
“Everybody wanted to do something,” Dominguez said. “We kind of combined all the ideas because they were all related.”
Dominguez’s idea of a Little Free Library got a twist when the girls talked about building something that, instead of books, would house the kinds of things they had put in the backpacks – canned and boxed goods as well as personal hygiene items.
They called it the “Blessing Box.”
Troop leader Amber Branum said the troop first looked at installing a box in the Third Ward but then decided they would be able to better maintain it if the box was closer to home. The troop meets at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church and after a conversation with Pastor Nathan Bledsoe, the decision was made to put it in the church parking lot.
The City of Houston Building Materials Reuse Warehouse donated the materials for the box, which they do for scout projects, and Dominguez’s father, Napoleon, constructed it. Then the Girl Scouts painted it green and white, the Girl Scout colors, and stocked it with items.
They immediately found that their idea was a good one.
“Whenever we went back to check it, it was empty,” Dominguez said.
Amber Branum said the troop, with help from Dominguez’s mother, Celia, regularly restocks the box. The parishioners of St. Stephen’s and community members are invited to add items as well.
“Other Girl Scouts can as a Take Action project,” Grace Branum said, explaining that all the Girl Scout Journeys, or badges, have this action component.
As the troop is finding, there is abundant need in the area for the blessings the box provides.
“We did this so it would help the people who need it,” Olivia Jack said.