AP NEWS

New tool to help the hungry

March 12, 2019

Meals on Wheels of Odessa is expanding access to food and supplies for the needy by installing a blessing box at their office on Fifth Street.

MOW Executive Director Margaret Burton said the blessing box serves as a way to provide items such as canned food, ramen noodles, breakfast bars and toiletries to the area’s homeless population around the clock.

The blessing box is open to the public now and is mounted on a stand at the west end of the organization’s property, located at 1314 E. Fifth St. Burton said the communal food pantry is open to any person or family that needs help securing a meal.

She said the system was similar to Little Free Libraries where residents have a dedicated space to exchange books.

“Take what you need and leave what you can,” she said. “It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

Burton said the blessing box was important to have in the community because it can provide food security to those who are held back by nonprofits’ hours of operation or the stigma of asking for help.

“Some people are hurting but they’re not saying anything,” Burton said.

Gail Etheredge, a MOW board member, said she partnered with the Ector Cabinet Shop to bring the organization’s vision to life.

The exterior is constructed with plywood, marked with various food labels and has a bird decoration that sits on top of the cabinet’s roof.

Its dimensions are about 30 inches tall 18 inches long and 16 inches wide.

Etheredge said the blessing box will provide useful items to people in need but will need the community’s support to be successful.

“We’re really excited, Etheredge said. “If this works out I’d love to see others around town.”