Community Collaboration Puts Blessing Box Back in Action
WEIR – For people in Weir, a small wooden structure on Main Street has been an important resource to help families in struggling times. The original “Blessing Box” was installed by the Aaron and Julie Williams family in the mid 2000s. They built the blessing box and it stood on the property of Karen Sullivan in the quiet, once booming downtown of Weir.
“I am very happy and honored to donate this space for Weir’s Blessing Box. I don’t know when the Blessing Boxes first began, but Weir’s started when my daughter and her family made it. I have seen them in the smaller communities. I am so proud Weir is getting theirs back and so thankful to everyone that worked so hard and made our Blessing Box available again here in Weir. It is truly a blessing and a beautiful Christmas gift for our community.”
In the fall of 2019, the box was deteriorating due to weather and it was torn down. Cue the community effort to make sure another one was put up in it’s place. The idea behind Blessing Boxes or other similar services is a grassroots, neighbor-helping-neighbor mindset. Small towns thrive on the efforts of volunteers and Weir, Kansas is no different. When the blessing box fell to shambles and was removed, several local civic leaders and volunteers realized that something needed done and worked together to collect funds to put a new box up. One driving force behind the installation of the new blessing box was the Weir Public Library Board. For several years now, the Weir Public Library has collected canned goods in place of late fees for overdue books. They took these canned goods to the blessing box, so they were interested in making sure a new one was built. “The library collects canned goods in lieu of overdue book fines. This enables the library and its patrons to support those in our community who need a little extra help,” stated Bonnie Palmer, Weir Public Library Director.
Officers on the library board spearheaded community efforts by visiting with the local school’s Industrial Arts Teacher, Jim Rockers, at Southeast High School. Jim’s students in woodworking classes and the Skills USA organization found free plans online for a “Little Free Pantry” and gathered a materials list. Based on what was needed to build the new blessing box, the Library Board members presented the plans and attended a City Council meeting, the Senior Citizens meeting, and the Civic Club to gather support and funds to make the blessing box a reality.
“On behalf of the Library board, we want to especially thank Jim Rockers and his students for the work on this project. This is a great example for the students in Career & Technical Education courses about the importance of using the skills you have acquired to serve your community,” stated Janet Holden, Weir Library Board Secretary.
The idea behind the blessing box, is take what you need; leave what you can, and it’s a philosophy that has made blessing boxes nationwide a program that runs itself. The service is completely anonymous. Although the Library Board members do check on the box to make sure it’s in good shape and stocked, there are no forms to fill out for dropping off items or taking items out. Just stop by and do what you need to do.
Thank you to all who made this possible: Karen Sullivan, Aaron & Julie Williams, Weir Library Board, Jim Rockers & USD 247 students, City of Weir, Weir Senior Citizens, Weir Civic Club, and Margie Wilson for the vinyl decal on the door.
The blessing box is located in the 200 block of West Main Street in Weir, on the south side of the road.
– Janet Holden, Weir Library Board Secretary