Blessing Boxes Bring Hope to MooreJun 15, 2020
The bright red box appeared overnight in front of the Moore Faith Medical Clinic. While it's relatively inconspicuous aside from its color, its presence represents the best of the character of Moore and those who live here: people caring for others' needs without regard for who gets the credit.
It's called a "Blessing Box." In short, it's essentially a "micro food pantry." It exists to provide temporary help for those struggling with a shortage of food, something that has been a growing problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. They're popping in communities across the state of Oklahoma. The Blessing Box in front of the Moore Faith Medical Clinic is part of a statewide effort being spearheaded by Dr. Kim Weaver and her husband, State Senator Darrell Weaver.
The idea was sparked when Kim and her daughter spotted a white box with a red heart on it outside the home of Lorrie Webb in Moore. Webb had just created a little micro-food pantry on her own and was restocking it herself.
"She just did this out of the goodness of her heart," said Kim. "We saw the sign and stopped to visit with her and thought what a wonderful idea."
That initial conversation with Webb led to further discussions among the Weaver family, and they decided they wanted to do something as well.
"So many people are being hit hard right now," said Kim. "Our family was talking about ways that we could help, and we went down to Marlow to visit with Rose Massey, who has been doing blessing boxes through the United Methodist Church in that area."
Massey is a retired nurse who felt God calling her to create the micro-pantries a few years back. Kim says that her initial thought was to add a few blessing boxes in the communities where she runs her clinics. But the idea quickly grew to something bigger, and they approached Dave Edwards, the director of the Moore Faith Medical Clinic, about adding one here.
"Kim came to me with the idea, and I thought, 'Man, that is such a great idea!'" said Edwards. "Our communities have obviously gone through a rough time, and the idea of a Blessing Box just fits so well with what we do here, providing free medical care to those who need it."
Kim, who is also the Women's Director of Health for the Moore Faith Medical Clinic, partnered with Edwards to get the ball rolling, and things moved quickly. Volunteers rallied to build and install the unit, and volunteers showed up to help stock and restock it.
"It's amazing how the people of Moore always seem to respond," said Darrell. "None of us have unlimited resources to keep this thing stocked, but there's just been an outpouring of support."
The Weaver's say that the way the Blessing Box works is simple: people who have extra food simply come back and fill up the shelves with non-perishable items and toiletries, and those who need things are welcome to come by and get what they need to fill the gap. But the idea quickly grew from something simple and local to a statewide effort.
"It just exploded, to be honest with you," said Darrell. "I don't think anybody in Oklahoma wants anyone else to go hungry, and so we just wanted to help make it easy for folks in other communities to participate."
The Weavers, who joke about always going "all in" on anything they do, created an organization called "Oklahoma Blessing Boxes" and filed for official non-profit status. The initial effort to place a few of the micro pantries has grown to a total of 17 boxes. Those boxes have either been placed or are in the process of being placed.
"There are actually quite a few of these already in place in other areas," said Kim. "What we wanted to do was make it as easy as possible for folks to start and support one in their community. We can help install them or show them how to do it themselves and then support them in their efforts."
The Moore Faith Medical Clinic Blessing Box is supported by a wide array of individuals from local churches who help make sure there's plenty of food and toiletries for those in need.
"We have volunteers from about 40 churches who serve here at the clinic," said Edwards. "To my knowledge, everything that has been brought here comes from individuals who are just doing it in the name of Jesus, which is so very cool."
"The outpouring of support from people in Moore has been tremendous," said Kim. "People are adopting it and spreading it to others, to other churches and youth groups. That's exciting to see, and we hope we can help it spread to every community that needs it."
Plans for the future include creating an app that will help people locate blessing boxes across the state.
"We have an IT guy who is volunteering his time to create this," said Darrell. "So, you'll be able to find one nearby quickly right there on your smartphone. And we're hoping to include folks who are not directly a part of our efforts but have put up blessing boxes on their own."
The micro pantry movement arrives at a critical moment for so many families across the state. Dave Edwards, the Weavers, and the hundreds of folks who are building and stocking these Blessing Boxes say it's just their way of answering the call of Christ to help those in need.
"Rose Massey told me, 'Hunger has no face.'" Said Kim. "And I think that's so true, especially at this point in time. We think there's a certain demographic or person that relies on others for help. But the truth is that all of us are just a step away from needing a blessing box to help us get through."
Kim also notes that they include something extra in the Blessing Boxes to help those looking for spiritual nourishment as well.
"My sweet mom, who is in heaven, used to give out these 'Jesus Calling' books to so many people when she was checking out at the pharmacy or the Dollar General," said Kim. "When she passed away, we continued to purchase these. Now we put some of those in there along with Bibles that churches give us. Those go quickly because sometimes people also need to feed their soul and their heart along with their belly."