Emarie Mayse was concerned about the hungry people in the community and asked her grandmother if they could put food in the blessing box at Florence Baptist Church, where she attends with her family.
Emarie is a little girl with a heart for helping the hungry. She is like a lot of other children, youth and adults across Rutherford County who are involved in a blessing box ministry at churches and in the communities to help feed those who are hungry.
In Rutherford County there are 3,310 food insecure children and a total 10,400 food insecure people.
Blessings Boxes are placed in different areas of the county as ways to help feed the hungry.
Among locations of Blessing Boxes are at the Church of God, Washington Street, Forest City; First Baptist, Forest City; near Rutherford Regional Medical Center at the Ruff'ton Roots garden area; Providence United Methodist Church; Southern Baptist, in Ruth; The Barn off Highway 74 B, Forest City; Spindale United Methodist Church and near the Thermal Belt Rail Trail near Spindale.
Spindale United Methodist Church sponsors two Blessing Boxes. One is on the church property off Main Street in Spindale and the second box is near McDonald's in Spindale adjacent to the parking area, near the Therma Bet Rail Trail.
"We built the first box in response to the many homeless and hungry people within walking distance of our church," pastor Eric Marshburn said earlier this year. The overwhelming response to the box just reinforced what we suspected; that the need is there and we should respond to it."
When the second blessing box was put up, the church expressed their hope that members of both Spindale and Rutherfordton would take ownership of the boxes and together fight hunger. The boxes were designed and built by Charles and Jeanette Crain.
The First Baptist Church in Forest City began the "Little Free Pantry" (LFP) ministry in memory of Cindy Campbell in April of 2018 and has been providing food there for the past four years.
The LFP is a small food safety net that can be accessed at any time by anyone. The motto- which was painted by the children of the church, reads, "Take what you need. Give what you can." If people want to help they bring food. If in need, people are asked to take food. There are no questions asked.
Some individuals who utilize pantries across the county do not have access to a kitchen, so any non-perishable food items are welcomed. Some who visit pantries are homeless. They do not have means to cook, or even to open cans. A single can of soup can be a blessing to a hungry family, said a spokesperson at First Baptist.
Every day, church members as well as community members stop by to put donations in, and most donations are picked up by a neighbor in need within less than a day.
"The food goes in and the food goes out," said church secretary Laura Link.
"Love your neighbor as yourself," said Rev. Tonya Garrison, children's minister at Florence Baptist. "A blessing box is a tangible way for Florence Baptist Church to love its neighbor. By having a blessing box, we are making food available for those in need and giving an opportunity for our church members and community to 'love your neighbor'. Can you imagine a community where we love our neighbor? I can because I live in one. That too is a blessing."
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The Blessing Box at Florence Baptist was built by Marine Doug Jackson, also a member of the church, and is sponsored by the Mamie Flack Sonshine Sunday School Class. The class dedicated the Blessing Box in memory of several members of the class.
"A blessing box is a beautiful way to give to those who are less fortunate and makes for a happier community," said Magnolia Long when the Leadership Rutherford Class of 2021-22 officially opened the Rutherford Rise Blessing Box near Rutherford Regional Medical Center earlier this year.
Long is the community development director for the Town of Rutherfordton and was a member of the leadership class.
Those who visit the Blessing Box can take food or can replenish the box.
The Ruff'ton Roots volunteers were thanked for allowing the Blessing Box to be placed at the garden and for agreeing to allocate money to the operating budget to ensure the box stayed packed with easily accessible food.
The Rutherford Rising Blessing Box serves those traveling, people who are discharged from the hospital or people waiting at the bus stop across the street who are hungry and have no means to get food.
The Leadership Rutherford Class of 2022 wanted to shine their light on fellow community members by meeting an immediate need of readily-consumable food or hygiene products, Long said when the Blessing Box was dedicated.
Henson's Building Materials and Lowe's Home Improvement donated most of the raw materials for the project, PNC Bank assisted with donations and Florence Baptist Church members provided the first food and hygiene products placed in the Blessing Box.
The blessing boxes placed across the county are there to help feed the hungry and it is up to the people of Rutherford County to check on thee boxes and stock them so those needing food will have access to food.
As said so many times, hunger is not just a big city program. It is also a problem in our hometown. It' a problem on our streets, and the people of Rutherford County can help with the simple purchase of non-perishable food that can be easier opened for anyone needing food.
Stop by any of the Blessing Box locations either to receive or to give food. They are all easily accessible for those in need and those wanting to help.