‘Blessings Box’ Now Open in Greggsville
WHEELING – A pantry stocked with food, hygiene and laundry items for those who need them is now in place at the Greggsville playground in Woodsdale.
The Ohio County Food Security Team has placed its sixth “blessings box” at the facility. The boxes serve as a neighborhood pantry containing items for those in need, with the public also donating items to replenish them.
The Ohio County Food Security Team provided the pantry, which will be maintained by the Junior League of Wheeling in partnership with nearby Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Claudia Raymer, executive director of the Ohio County Family Resources Network, said the blessings boxes are placed in areas where residents don’t have easy access to food sources such as the Soup Kitchen of Great Wheeling, or even grocery stores.
The blessings boxes are always unlocked and open, and the public is invited to take and bring in items as they need.
“You never know who needs help,” Raymer said. “If people are accessing it (a pantry), they must need it.”
The first two blessings boxes were placed at the West Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and at the Valley Grove Community Center earlier this year, and they are now self-sustaining as the community regularly replenishes their shelves, she said.
The third location at Bethlehem Elementary Schools is close to being self-sustaining, while a fourth blessings box at Bridge Street Middle School, is “the most heavily accessed blessings box,” according to Raymer.
Also seeing much usage is the box located at the Wheeling Elks Lodge, 4706 Jacob St., in South Wheeling.
Partner boxes are located at the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling, 1610 Eoff St., and at Garden Park in Warwood.
Rev. Erica Harley at Vance Church explained the Junior League of Wheeling is based out of the church, and she had been looking for ways the church could partner with the group.
The Junior League took on the Greggsville blessings box project because of its close proximity to the Greggsville playground, and asked for the church’s assistance.
“It was a good fit, because since COVID our food pantry is not being used,” Harley explained.
She speculated the reason might be that during the pandemic many other food sources for feeding the public were set in motion.
Blessings boxes contain non-perishable items such as spaghetti sauce and pasta, cereal and canned vegetables for those in need of food. Also in the box are hygiene products including toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as jackets and blankets if needed.
Laundry products such as detergent and fabric softener were placed in the blessings box at the Greggsville playground Thursday.
While additional partners are sought, the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling has been serving as the primary source for contributing food to each blessings box.
The Ohio County Food Security Team is holding a food drive throughout September to help increase the supply of food items for the boxes. Donations can be dropped-off at the soup kitchen, 1610 Eoff St. in downtown Wheeling, and at Easterseals, 1305 National Road in Woodsdale.
“Being part of the Ohio County Food Security Team has provided us an opportunity to work together and with new community partners in a way that serves more people in need, even when they cannot get into Wheeling. The combined work of the agencies with community partners makes sure no one falls through the cracks,” said Becky Rodocker, executive director for The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling.