By Matt Wotus
While taking a human services class at a local community college, Army veteran Roman Espinoza learned that there was a food pantry at the school.
Realizing that some of adults around him who are spending time in class can’t eat every day, he decided to build a “Blessing Box” on his front lawn in Watertown, New York, to help those in need. The box is a miniature food pantry, and people can donate items or take what they need.
“Whether you’re taking or giving, you can just go to the blessing box,” Espinoza told CNN. “There’s not a lock on it — it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Since putting in the initial bit of food himself, he hasn’t had to fill the box up much. People have also started putting in toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo in the box.
“The box itself is for the community and it’s sustained by the community,” he said. “The community, the neighborhood and my block have been really supportive.”
With the success of Espinoza’s box, the idea is starting to spread.
“I’ve gotten a couple of requests from people around town for boxes for their property,” he said. “With any luck, we’ll have a few around town where people can be made aware of them and make use of them.”
Espinoza said he hopes the boxes create an atmosphere of support and generosity in the town.
“Watertown, New York, in the next five years, could be known as the city of blessing boxes,” he said.