June 23, 2017

How is the little box in this family's front yard going to make the world a better place? Wichita's Maggie Ballard and her six-year-old son Paxton have created a "blessing box", a two-foot wide, bright red box that acts on pretty much the same principle as those honor system "little free libraries" that have been popping up across America. Of course, there's one major difference: instead of offering food for the mind, this little blessing box offers literal food. The Ballard family and other local residents donate food, so anyone can take food if they need it, or donate food if they're able.

The contributions to the box have gone beyond food as well. People have left warm mittens, surprise cash, and notes of gratitude. Many of the notes are addressed to Paxton, who, as part of his chores, keeps occasional watch over the blessing box. These notes include such sweet sentiments as, "I'm old enough to be your grandpa, and all my heroes are getting old and dying. Now you are my new HERO!" and "To the very sweet little boy. I think you are an amazing young man with a heart of gold!"

The Ballards' blessing box isn't the only tiny pantry that America has seen. Tiny pantries have also been popping up, according to NPR, in such states as Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota, dating back to a little pantry created in Arkansas. The creator of that pantry, Jessica McClard, speaks to the importance of these little pantries, saying, ""We're all short on time and money, and this is a way that people can feel like they are making a difference."

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