By Rick Palsgrove
Last spring, something special bloomed in Groveport’s Degenhart Park – a Blessing Box.
The box is a place for people to donate non-perishable food items, personal hygiene items, paper products, baby items, pet supplies, small clothing items such as socks, gloves, and hats. Donations may be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When asked who could take items from the Blessing Box and who could donate items, city of Groveport Public Relations and Communications Coordinator Jessica Reeves said, “Anyone and everyone.”
Reeves said the inspiration for the Blessing Box came from a school teacher from her hometown located in one of the poorest counties in Ohio.
“She and her husband, with the help of local businesses and residents, set up and maintain several Blessing Box locations around the community,” said Reeves. “This simple, but impactful, idea was perfect for Groveport so the whole community could be involved in feeding hungry neighbors.”
Reeves said the Blessing Box was installed to meet a community need.
“In 2018, 32.2 percent of Franklin County residents experienced food insecurity,” said Reeves. “Food banks, pantries, and other programs are doing all they can to fight the hunger crisis, but sometimes they have limited hours of operation and/or a registration process. Some people are embarrassed to ask for help. The Blessing Box is anonymous and it’s available when the need is there.”
Reeves said Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall selected Degenhart Park, located at the southern end of Lesleh Avenue, as the site for the Blessing Box.
“She felt Degenhart Park is very accessible and it’s also one of the locations of the Free Summer Lunch Program,” said Reeves. “Children and their families would be able to utilize the Blessing Box while attending the Free Summer Lunch Program if they had an additional need. With the Blessing Box being located in the parking lot, it’s highly visible which makes it convenient to donate or pick up a few things.”
The Blessing Box in Degenhart is the only one in Groveport for now.
“Because we have received very positive feedback from the community, there has been some discussion about adding another location but nothing has been decided yet,” said Reeves.
The Trammer family are among the many people and families who donate to the Blessing Box regularly.
“My husband and I are retired, on social security, but every month when we go to the store, we put a few items in the cart for this Blessing Box,” said Groveport resident Sandy Trammer. “We truly believe in ‘paying forward.’ This Blessing Box is such a good idea for a person or family who may be facing a short term crisis and cannot afford a meal at this time and may need this while waiting for the food pantry. Every person in need has a story and can you imagine disappointment by a parent who may go to that box and find very little food in there for their family?”
Reeves said the Blessing Box has been “very successful.”
“The community has really come together to make sure the box stays stocked,” said Reeves. “There was only one time the Blessing Box was completely empty. We posted the need on the city’s Facebook page and by the next morning, it was so full the doors would hardly close!”
Reeves said the city will have a Thanksgiving Blessing Box Food Drive from Nov.1-27. Donations can either be put in the Blessing Box or dropped off at the Groveport Municipal Building, 655 Blacklick St., from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will be a collection box in the lobby.