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Blessing Boxes installed

The local charitable organization #withlovefromharlan has provided a way for folks to help feed hungry children and adults alike by putting up “Blessing Boxes” in select locations in Harlan County.

According to Leslie Bledsoe, they heard of the idea and decided to implement it locally.

“It’s something we’ve seen on the news that’s happening throughout the country,” Bledsoe said. “You just build a box and put it out somewhere in the community where it’s going to be visible.”

According to Bledsoe, the original idea was for the boxes to be used for children.

“The main idea was to help feed the kids who are out of school for the summer or out for snow days and don’t have enough food at home,” Bledsoe explained. “We hope they’ll be able to use the boxes to get something to eat.”

Bledsoe pointed out the boxes are primarily for food, but other items are welcome.

“We’ve been putting books in there, people have been putting hygiene items in,” Bledsoe said. “Pretty much anything you think somebody may be able to use.”

Bledsoe explained items donated must be non-perishable. Easy opening, tamper-resistant containers are preferred.

“Foods with pop-top containers like are used with Vienna sausages, also boxes of Pop Tarts, things like that are good,” Bledsoe said. “These things may not be the most nutritious, but at least the kids will be getting fed.”

At this time, two Blessing Boxes are in operation in Harlan.

“We’ve got one at the North Evarts Park, and we’ve got one over in Sunshine just past the Community Action Agency,” Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe added she hopes to receive permission soon to put boxes up in a few more locations.

“Anybody can just walk up to the box, they’re not very high off the ground,” Bledsoe said. “That way the kids can reach it, and get whatever they need that’s in there.”

Bledsoe said they have received a lot of donations of food and other items to help restock the boxes.

“We’ve got people designated to check on the boxes at least twice a week,” Bledsoe said.

According to a post on the #withlovefromharlan Facebook page, the boxes are to be used by anyone who needs them. Folks are to “take what they need, and leave what you can.”

Bledsoe asks if the box is full, please bring back any donations later rather than leaving items on the ground.

“We don’t want to attract animals or promote abuse of the boxes,” Bledsoe said.

The first box went up in Sunshine approximately three weeks ago.

“Hopefully by the end of this week, we’ll have either one in Loyall and one at the Black Mountain Park in Evarts, maybe both,” Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said members of the community have taken it upon themselves to build the boxes and donate them.

“They just want to help out,” Bledsoe said. “We’ve received messages from at least two churches that are building boxes to put at their churches, and one church has offered to let us put a box on their property. The idea is to have at least 10 boxes up before the kids get out for summer.”

Bledsoe said the boxes will remain up as long as they are being used properly.

“We’re just trying to make a positive impact on the community, and have community involvement,” Bledsoe said.

For more information, check out the #withlovefromharlan Facebook page.