- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - In the midst of what feels like tragic news at every turn on a national news landscape, a positive light can be found at the corner of East Eighth and South Monroe streets in Muncie.

A little more than a week ago, Jeannetta Presley created a “Blessing Box” and placed it near the end of her front yard. The small black cabinet, resting on a piece of wood and a cinder block, is stocked with non-perishable food items and basic toiletries. The outside is decorated with masking tape, reading “take what you need, bring what you can.” Contents of the box include dry pasta, sugar, peanut butter, baby formula, diapers and shampoo.

“It’s not a lot; it’s a little,” Presley said. “But you can take a box of macaroni and cheese, a can of tuna and a can of peas, and you can make a casserole. And it’s out there.”

Presley intends for it to be a sort of revolving door. People who need these goods can take some during times of need. Then, when they get their own money, they can bring back items of equal value.

“Everybody is just trying to survive,” she said. “If I can give somebody a dinner for one evening, then I did my part for that day, or if I just added something that they didn’t have to make a dinner, then that’s OK, too.”

She snagged the idea when she was scrolling through Facebook and saw a similar concept at a church in Georgia. She hopes the idea takes off locally, especially at churches that could keep a box going, perhaps, more robustly.

For now, Presley checks the box’s inventory each day to restock the goods. She hopes she won’t have to do that long term, and, in fact, says she probably won’t be able to afford to but wants to ensure her efforts get off to a good start.

She stocks just one type of each good to reinforce that others should take only what they need.

After having the box out for a week, Presley has noticed some taking advantage, but she wants there to be more.

“I would like to see (all) neighborhoods do it,” she said. “I think it would benefit each and every neighborhood if just one person in that neighborhood started a box, and the rest of the neighborhood kept it going.”

The idea caught the attention of Presley’s neighbor Tammy Corbin, who said she thought it was “a great idea.” The neighbors have built a strong relationship since Presley moved into her Monroe Street house a year and a half ago.

Presley has epilepsy, which requires her to own a service dog and attend numerous doctor’s appointments, and she also pays regular visits to her niece, who is terminally ill. Corbin understands the burden of an illness because she is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer. So, she helps out her neighbor with the box any way she can, whether it’s keeping it stocked or keeping watch of it when Presley is unavailable.

It doesn’t surprise Corbin that her neighbor and friend would do something nice for the community. Presley is a retired foster parent who adopted four children, two of whom are a mother and daughter she took in simultaneously. It was a gesture she made to help those in need of care.

Now, that same compassion is what motivates Presley to continue her Blessing Box.

“I was hoping it would take off for the people around here that work and have kids and need it, and I know there’s a lot of them,” Presley said. “I don’t know if they’re just afraid to come to it. . Please, don’t hesitate. It’s there if you need.”


Source: The (Muncie) Star Press, https://tspne.ws/2aeMdUV


Information from: The Star Press, https://www.thestarpress.com

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