By NICK HEDRICK (Terre Haute)


BRAZIL, Ind. — The concept is similar to the Little Free Libraries, but instead of books, the wood and Plexiglas box outside Grace Chapel Ministries in Brazil provides non-perishable food and household necessities to those in need.

A day after the Blessing Box popped up along U.S. 40 on the west side of town, someone dropped off donations. Another family stopped by the next day with more. And two days after that, a person in need partook in the generosity of neighbors.

“We live in an area of low income, and there’s always a need,” said Leigh Pritchard, a Grace Chapel member who started the effort. “And I don’t want people to think that no matter how small it is, it’s not going to bless someone, because it can. It absolutely can.”

Pritchard first saw the idea on Pinterest and her husband, Joe, set to work this summer building the first box. It’s divided into three enclosed cubicles and topped off with a wooden cross.

Their pastor, Tim Russell, allowed them to place the box on the church’s front lawn close to the highway. Pritchard started a Facebook page to spread the word.

Donations of non-perishable food, hy- giene products, clothes and toys are welcome. The items must be new and fit in the box. Pritchard asks people of faith to pray over the box when they leave a donation.

As about a dozen church members gathered Wednesday for a small dedication, the provisions were neatly tucked behind the Plexiglas door. There were canned and boxed foods, laundry detergent, dish soap and shaving cream.

Chris Singer brought canned goods, cookies and chips. “I think it’s great to be able to help,” she said.

Kenzie Stearley contributed the deter- gent and dish soap and a set of screwdrivers. The Northview High School senior said she notices the community’s basic needs among her fellow students. The project helps the church be the “hands and feet of Jesus.”

Pritchard has watched her Facebook inbox quickly fill with messages of support from everywhere. A Rosedale man asked if he could start his own Blessing Boxes there. Pritchard received a message from a Terre Haute woman who is recruiting more businesses. There are 14 more boxes in the works. The next one will be placed at Aerial Arts Fireworks in Brazil. The Pritchards are waiting for clearance from three other locations in Brazil, Clay City and Terre Haute.

“I thought this would be one and done, and I think my husband did, too,” Pritchard said with a laugh.

Joe Pritchard said he knows the boxes will do great things for his community and beyond. “For me, it’s just a blessing to be able to use my hands for God,” he said. His wife wants to see the project continue to grow and more people to be inspired and take the initiative.

“I’ve been looking for something to do for a long time to show God’s love, but I want people to know that no matter how small it is, just take that leap of faith and do it,” Leigh Pritchard said.