The tale of this powerful, formally all white box is just starting.
After the box had already been erected, I attended an Organizations Serving Arvada meeting. Kami Welch happened to be speaking at this event, and she had an exercise for us to do. I recall it being a very eye opening morning, but my biggest takeaway from the day was something Kami shared about the largest pains that a non-profit endures, according to research-driven data.
One such fact she shared was that non-profits don’t have problems with not having enough volunteers. Its more often that they don’t know what to do with volunteers when they have them.
Ok, that makes sense…..but then there was something else she shared about corporate “give back” programs that surprised me. Studies show businesses want to give back to their community, but the issue they experience is that there aren’t activities a group of people can gather together and do start to finish in a half-day.
Ok so I know we can gain a ton of clarification on those facts, but putting two and two together made me think of the process it took to build this community sharing box.
The process really wasn’t that difficult, the caveat was that we needed everything to sit as flush as we could possibly make it!
I’ll go into more detail how to build one in another post. In short, if you have 5-10 people working on it you can build one start to finish in 5-7 hours. But for the purposes of this blog, we’ll stick to the origin story.
From mission to made
The journey to go from receiving permission to build this community sharing box truly wasn’t as painful as many thought it would be. The pastor of The Rising Church, Steve Byers has acquired permission to have the community sharing box set on the churches property in Olde Town. And thats a really good thing, because the box has been sitting on a table behind the church, and its already being used by the community.
The day we finally got it in the ground was the weekend of the St Patty’s day parade in Olde Town. Hence the Irish-themed hat I’m sporting. We took pictures with Gene Paul, who helped me build it, and Kenny, a local resident.
The painting, I believe is a large proponent to what makes these white-label community sharing boxes so unique though. We painted the entire outside of the box White. A blank canvas. Something to start from.
Each community share box has the opportunity to express itself however the community sees fit. This means two things.
First, the box is constantly changing, and constantly adapting to the way the community is using it. When the box is placed in an area of high traffic, it changes the whole landscape. Weekends are much busier, and the box can be refilled 3-6 times per day. Somehow people know that its there for them, and it is.
Second, the box is art. The function of the box speaks so loudly, and painting a mini-mural on it can really give the neighborhood a facelift and a fresh personality.
It took David 2.5 months to finish painting the outside of it, and it looks amazing.
Extension of the Church Food Pantry
Our fearless leader Rebel does an amazing job. We are so thankful for all the food bank volunteers, but we could never staff the food pantry 24/7. The blessing box acts as our always on call volunteer.
24 Hour Access
I believe one of the reasons it provides such a benefit to the community is because it acts as a No Cost Grocery Program of sorts that is open all hours of the day. The box provides food pantry and personal items to whomever needs it. Often times it is filled with water. Occasionally there is produce and bread.
You might even get lucky and find someone’s homemade, chocolate brownies, individually wrapped of course.
Food Deserts & Picking A Location
We believe the blessing box is playing a small role in helping feed the hungry. Anywhere in the Denver metro where there is no grocery store within 1 square mile is considered a “food desert.” The Rising Church sits on a food desert, which made them a great location as a host to one of these boxes. The Rising happens to have a homeless ministry and food bank that serves the community, another reason this was a perfect fit.
Who Has Donated
-Micklejohn Elementary food rescue program
-St. Anne’s Elementary food rescue program
Reflecting on the first 4 months
Many people have shared about the box, and what it means to this community with me. The thing I enjoyed the most was the conversations I had with the church residents. Stories of abundance, is what surrounded the sidewalks of the church. Thats what its been like all summer.
My Call to action
Coming back to the discussion about local businesses and corporate give back programs, businesses want to give back to their community. If there aren’t enough activities a group of people can gather together and do start to finish in a half-day, filling and tending to several sharing boxes within a community is quite possibly an excellent solution to that problem. If you own a business or know someone who does, consider giving back to your community by making quarterly trips to fill and/or clean boxes within the Arvada community.
stay personable, Heath