Church’s Blessing Box offers helping hand to Farmville community

Published 1:51 am Saturday, January 14, 2023

FARMVILLE – Right off High Street, placed in front of Farmville United Methodist Church, rests a small box with a big impact. It’s called a Blessing Box. Basically, it’s a resource for the community.

You take any supplies you need. Members of the Farmville UMC congregation keep the little box stocked with different materials on any given day. People will leave anything from COVID tests to food items to toiletries. Earlier this week, there was even a copy of The Great Gatsby in there. 

The Blessing Box was an idea born out of the pandemic, explained Rev. Susie Thomas. She serves as pastor at Farmville UMC.   

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“It was a project we could do, it was outdoors, and didn’t require a lot of one-to-one contact,” Thomas said. 

This was her second experience creating a Blessing Box. Thomas had actually started a similar project back in South Louisiana, where she lived before moving to serve the Farmville congregation in 2020. 

When she moved to Farmville, however, she quickly noticed that the Blessing Box might be able to serve the community here, too. That’s because there was (and is) a clear need. Thomas explained that next to the church is the Wesley Foundation, which offers a food pantry for Longwood University students. 

“There is a real need on college campuses,” Thomas said. “Many college students are hungry or food insecure.” 

Reverend Thomas knew that the need was strong among college students, and she felt the need might extend into the rest of the Farmville community. 

Turning blessing box into reality 

The entire church rallied around the mission to help with the project. 

“One of our members, Brad Fuller, is a woodworker, so he built [the Blessing Box] for us,” Thomas said. “Another member, Beth Luther, is in charge of stocking [the box], along with anyone else in the church or community who wants to help out.”   

Between the church members, and community, the Blessing Box can help those in need with a variety of goods. Through these charitable donations and more, the Blessing Box is helping provide Farmville community members with a variety of resources they may find helpful or need. The Blessing Box also contains bibles and devotional books, as well as information on other resources in the community.

Another key component of the Blessing Box, Reverend Thomas explained, is that “people can go, take what they need, totally anonymously. And feel, I hope, a blessing from people who care.” If anyone wants to grab something, they should feel comfortable going any time and taking what they need.  

And if you want to contribute, that’s easy to do.

“What’s really popular are things that don’t require a can-opener or a pot,” Thomas said. She recommended items that are microwaveable and single-serve, like oatmeal or macaroni cheese cups. Non-food items are just as welcome, with a particular need for toiletries, like soap or toothbrushes, and feminine hygiene products. 

Farmville UMC continues the blessings

Outside of the Blessing Box, the United Methodist Church also has an active connection to FACES, another food pantry in the area. Reverend Thomas said, “we are always collecting food at the church to donate to FACES.” 

Thomas also has plans to add a prayer box nearby in the future, so that those in need can “make a spiritual connection” if they so choose. She plans to have the church pray for anyone who requests a prayer, anonymous or otherwise.  

Reverend Thomas is glad that the church is able to offer this option to anyone who may be needing a helping hand. She and the congregation just want Farmville residents to know there are people nearby who care. 

“I hope that it remains there as a resource for the community so that people know that when they are counting on their last nerve, or when they are really in a rough place, they know that there are other people who may have been there themselves, or who care about them,” Thomas said. 

You can find the Blessing Box located at 212 High Street in Farmville, right in front of Farmville United Methodist Church. It is available to donate, or take from, 24/7.