– Steve Wilkinson
Longtime Polk United Methodist Church member Steve Wilkinson said stories from his daughter inspired the timely creation of the congregation’s outdoor food ministry.
Wilkinson’s daughter, a teacher in North Carolina, was relaying the struggles some of her students’ families were facing during the pandemic and her efforts to help provide them with food. Wilkinson thought those in his community might be facing similar troubles.
So, the longtime churchgoer reached out to his pastor, Drew Bell, with an idea to place what is often called a Blessing Box on church grounds.
“One day, fairly early in the pandemic lockdown, (Steve) called me and asked what I thought of the idea of putting a box up with non-perishable food items that anyone in the community could take as they need, and that folks could donate to at will,” Bell said. “I told him it was a great idea, and that I thought it would be something the community could use at a time like this.”
With permission granted, Wilkinson, a carpenter by trade, got right to work locating the needed materials. A friend donated a cabinet that Wilkinson retrofit with a roof and doors adorned with two crosses. In a matter of days of the idea’s proposal, he was meeting a few friends and family members at the church to dig the post holes and mount the double door wooden container.
It was the day before Wilkinson and his wife, Cindi, would celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary. Appropriate timing as Wilkinson’s research determined the present for 44 years was a perfect match for a Blessing Box.
“It came up groceries,” Steve Wilkinson said of his internet results for 44th anniversary gifts. “It’s funny how God speaks in that way.”
As part their celebration, Cindi Wilkinson went shopping to buy the necessary non-perishable items to get the program officially started.
Together the Wilkinsons keep an eye of the red wooden cupboard, visiting it daily with additional items as needed.
Steve Wilkinson said others have donated food since the box was erected on April 23, and the container has seen a fair share of items taken. The most needed have been canned meats and peanut butter.
While he knows many of the people who are offering supplies to put in the box, he does not know who is taking them, which is the design of the program – to offer assistance to those who need without ever seeing who they might be; to simply give love by providing nourishment.
Bell pointed to that as the most important part of the ministry.
“...anybody can use it. It can be anonymous, so there is a preservation of dignity. Nobody needs to feel shame or obligation. Nobody needs to feel like they are being pressured into a belief system by the church. Nobody has to come begging. It is just people helping people.”
Editor's note: Love Notes is an occasional series focused on that heart-thumping googly-eyed thing we call love. Readers can send in short stories and pictures about acts of love they witness or ideas about really great love stories they know about. I do ask that the stories are recent and everyone listed or pictured is aware of the submission for possible posting on the website and social media accounts for Eight&322.
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