THE DREAMS of one individual can shape the heart of an entire community. We can all look around and see the change we wish to see in the world. Many situations may seem too big; however, all it takes is those first few steps to really make a difference in your community. This is exactly what Pastor Laurie Raulston did in Normandy and the surrounding areas.
Last fall, Raulston was traveling with her husband when she came upon a blessing box. Her curiosity inspired her to open the box, and she discovered it was stocked with supplies that could be taken by anyone in need of them. Soon after this experience, she felt a call to also establish a blessing box in the Normandy area. She returned home and presented this idea to her church Normandy Methodist. Because of their small congregation, they were unable to manage a traditional food pantry. However, the blessing box offered up the perfect solution to this problem. The outreach and witness teams of the church immediately began laying the foundation for this dream to come to fruition. The town joined in the church’s efforts and approved for the box to be placed on town property. The blessing box currently resides on Front Street.
Pastor Laurie Raulston says “A blessing box is a simple way to let our neighbors know they are loved, and their needs are important. The blessing box is a perfect way to live out Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:1-4 about giving in private.” People from all around the community have participated in leaving and taking items. A second box was recently installed in front of Cascade Middle School. This box is supported by the parents and students along with three other churches, Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC), Wartrace UMC, and Bell Buckle UMC—all of which have been inspired by this calling.
Through the process of maintaining the box, Pastor Laurie Raulston along with the other participants have learned a few unexpected things; some of the most needed items like laundry detergent, toilet paper, and garbage bags cannot be found at larger food banks, making the blessing boxes some people’s only avenue to acquire those things. They also learned that dried beans and rice are the least likely items to be removed from the box. Lastly, they have realized that food pantries are not open on weekends whereas the blessing box is always available.
Pastor Laurie Raulston explained that the last ten days of the month is where they see the most need. Individuals with already limited resources begin to see those run out.
The blessing box is a huge benefit to the community. It inspires individuals to reach out and create a change while also showing those who are in need that they are not alone. In the words of Pastor Laurie Raulston, “It’s a blessing to be a blessing.” -GN