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Poplarville food pantry marks a year of blessings

A year after its construction, the blessing box at the Ruth Presbyterian Memorial Church is more well-used than ever.

“We really see the need for it in the community. We just want to make it bigger and encourage other churches and organizations to do the same thing,” said church elder Rita Diggs-Jones.

The small Poplarville food pantry is a white box with red-framed windows. One side contains food items, while the other side is stocked with hygiene products. The blessing box offers canned goods and jars of baby food, alongside bread and fresh fruit. The hygiene side includes everyday cleaning products including items such as diapers, pads and toothbrushes.

The box is designed to allow any community member in need of food or toiletries to take what they need when needed. Donations can also be left in the box any time.

The food pantry is well-used. Typically within two days after being filled up, the box is empty. Need has increased due to the pandemic, said Diggs-Jones.

“What we’re trying to do is to encourage people to also bring items and put it in the blessing box for others,” she said. “It’s been a little low right now because of COVID, and we’re asking the community to step up and help us. But it’s really impacting the community because it’s being used.”

Purchasing items for the blessing box is funded by the church and through donations.

When the box was constructed last summer, it was dedicated in honor of Evelyn Agnelly, who began the project. Agnelly painted the box and was very involved in the project, said Diggs-Jones. Elder Linda Smith also helped with the project.

Acquiring hygiene and cleaning materials to fill the box has become more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s making it more difficult to find those items that we want to stock the blessing box with,” said Diggs-Jones. “We like to put things like detergent, personal hygiene items and cleaning materials in there and sometimes it’s difficult to find those right now.”

Diggs-Jones does not have advice for other churches considering similar projects, as much as she has a plea.

“Those type of charity things are needed within each community and the more we can provide that, the more we can help people who are out of work, who are in need of such things,” she said. “I just want to encourage people to continue to contribute when they can.”