By Dawn Hatfield
DARKE COUNTY — With most local schools having closed their doors—and cafeterias—for summer break, families may now rely more heavily than ever on the scattering of Blessing Boxes provided around the county by Radiant Lighthouse Church.
Lead Pastor Wesley Lynch, who initiated the Blessing Boxes project, and Executive Administrator Christyana Roberts spoke with The Daily Advocate about the church’s Blessing Boxes, which are located around each community and available for anyone who needs them. According to radiantchurchgreenville.com, the church encourages citizens to “Come, take what you need, or leave what you can, and be blessed!”
Lynch said, “We are super excited the boxes are being used so much. In some locations, the donations are literally gone as soon as they are available, within the hour. Sometimes we are able to fill a box up to twice in one day… We have partnered with many organizations in the community, such as school groups, clubs, and sports teams as well as local businesses to keep the boxes filled. Most sponsors adopt a box for a month or so at a time. Aldi in Greenville also donates food [to Radiant Church] each week with some of those donations going to the Blessing Boxes as well.”
“Each box also has an overseer who checks it at least once daily,” Lynch explained. While it would be wonderful to offer perishable foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables in the boxes, it is not safe to store such food in the weather, and the presence of fresh food can draw pests to the receptacles.
As one solution to this issue, Radiant Church will soon be implementing a Community Garden at their Sebring Warner location. With the assistance of United Way grant funding, the church is installing six 4 feet by 30 feet raised garden beds, which will provide an opportunity for citizens to share fresh vegetables and fruits in the community.
Additionally, the Community Garden would like to partner with local FFA groups to offer classes and workshops on gardening. “The goal,” said Lynch, “will be to put a small Community Garden Box in front of each current Blessing Box as the program grows.”
This will be at no cost to the community. “It’s all free,” Lynch explained, “as we hope to team up with as many community members as possible. We are better together.”
Radiant Church Blessing Boxes are available throughout Darke County and into Indiana at the following locations: Tribute Funeral Homes; Colonial Mobile Home Community; The Natural Path; Versailles; Club 7; Ansonia; New Madison; Winchester, IN; Union City; Oakley Place; and Gettysburg. An interactive map is available at radiantchurchgreenville.com.
According to webjunction.org, the most commonly donated and used Blessing Box items are as follows: non-perishable foods, including canned food with ring-pulls, crackers, small snacks, and bottled water, as well as toilet paper and other toiletries, including baby wipes, hand soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Please remember never to donate perishable food, food past its “use by” or expiration date, food in damaged or homemade packages, or any item(s) that could be dangerous or illegal, such as razors, medication, or alcohol.
Nourishtogether.org provides a comprehensive, seasonal list of suggested items for filling a Blessing Box. Individuals may donate directly to area Blessing Boxes or drop off food 24/7 at Radiant Lighthouse Church at 5256 Sebring Warner Road in Greenville. Visit radianchurchgreenville.com for a Blessing Box sponsor form or call the Radiant office at 937-504-6721 for more information about the church and its Blessing Box and/or Community Garden Box Ministries.
Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.