The Arkansas City Soroptimist Club recently was given the Lucy Keller Dreams in Action Award for its development of a blessing box program.
With the help of Arkansas City Habitat for Humanity, the group has installed four blessing boxes in specific Ark City neighborhoods.
Local tradesmen donated their time and talents to the project, and the boxes were installed in January 2017.
Soroptimist International of Arkansas City club members donated funds from their budgets for the construction material costs.
This is an ongoing project in which the blessing boxes are filled regularly with non-perishable items, which can be picked up free of charge by those in need.
Two club members, Brandy Williams and Suvanah Perdue, led the movement to create the blessing boxes, which hold common household necessities such as food and hygiene products.
The boxes can be found at:
- Central Christian Church, located at 206 W. Central Ave.
- Northwest Community Center, located at 615 W. Birch Ave.
- First United Methodist Church, located at 2448 Edgemont Drive
- Shepherd’s Grace Church, located at 1125 S. Summit St.
The idea behind the blessing boxes came from the concept of Free Little Libraries, which can be found across the country — including at the Northwest Community Center and in City Hall, located at 118 W. Central Ave.
The libraries hold books that can be taken or borrowed, free of charge.
The blessing boxes are painted yellow and have vinyl Soroptimist logo decals attached.
“We have established a committee to help support, upkeep and oversee the boxes,” said a club spokesperson. “We have a local radio station and newspaper that have supported our efforts in spreading the message and creating awareness of the blessing boxes.”
Items in the blessing boxes can be obtained 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Financial support for the project was given not only by the Soroptimists, but also other local civic organizations such as the Arkansas City Ministerial Alliance and the local Kiwanis, Optimist, and Rotary clubs. “There is a bigger need than people realize,” Williams said.
Community members are welcome to leave non-expired, non-perishable food in the blessing boxes, as well as toiletries.
“Our hope that is instead of relying on government agencies or other organizations, we the people of Arkansas City will open our eyes and take care of each other,” the spokesperson said.
“The impact so far is that when food is placed in the boxes, most of the time the complete stock is taken. This means, to our club, that there is a huge need in the area.”