Blessing box helps provide free food for community

If you've seen a tall, red box in your neighborhood and wondered what it is -- it's a blessing box.

English teacher Maygan Orr used her birthday money to have one built and placed in her Inglewood, CA neighborhood.

"I thought that it was important," Orr said. "Especially during this time with a pandemic for families to make sure that they know that they can come and they can get food."

It's not just non-perishable food in the blessing box. People are leaving masks, gloves and sometimes even blankets. Orr also put up a sign to remind people to be safe when using the box.

"We know that there are people on a daily basis that are going into the box to either donate food or retrieve food," Orr said. "So, we wanted to make sure that citizens can do this safely without putting their health at risk."

Orr commissioned Tavackus Dawson, founder of nonprofit The Hurt Help Group, to build and place the blessing box in Inglewood. Dawson had already built and placed one in Los Angeles and this inspired Orr to get one for her community.

"To have this right here, this food, somebody to reach out to them and let them know like, you know, I understand what you're going through," Dawson said. "I feel your pain and you know we're here for you as a community. I just want everybody to know that we are responsible for one another."

Orr said she got permission in advance from the owners of Hillcrest Oil before she placed the box on their property in April. Owner Simon Farahdel said he was happy to have the box placed on his property.

"Inglewood is changing and we want to give back to the community," Farahdel said. "So when the blessing box came to us and asked us to install it in our property, we thought it was a wonderful idea."

This is the first Inglewood Blessing Box, but after seeing the community response to this one, the group is already talking about placing more around the city and surrounding communities.

"With this pandemic and all the uncertainty, I just wanted to make sure that everyone in Inglewood has access to food," Orr said.