01/20/18 — Take what you need; leave what you can

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Take what you need; leave what you can

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 20, 2018 7:18 PM

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Non-perishable goods in one of the GOLDsboro Blessing Boxes at the intersection of George and Fussell Streets are available for those who are in need.

Blessing boxes have been popping up around Goldsboro over the past few months, with the hope for more to come.

Brandi Matthews said she discovered the prototype of a similar effort in Arkansas and knew right away it was a timely idea for her hometown.

"There's a need in every area," she said of the "anonymous place" designed to provide for those who may have fallen on hard times.

The idea took fruition locally around the end of September, with a second one installed about one month after that. The steps to accomplish that include digging holes for the two 4x4s that support the box, filling the hole with cement and once that is set, the box is installed.

The large, brightly colored containers are a way to be a blessing or receive one, she said. In fact, that is what the instructions spelled out on the glass doors say -- "If you need a blessing, take one. If you can leave a blessing, leave one."

The idea began with her replicating things she saw being done in other cities around the nation. And likewise, it attracted what she expected it would, canned goods and non-perishable items.

But then she began noticing it went beyond the obvious.

"I have been surprised at what the community has given," she said, rattling off a partial list, "shoes, socks, eyeglasses, umbrella, raincoats. I'm excited because these are things I didn't think about. I never put a cap on it."

Her goal was to let the boxes serve a purpose, simply to help those who could use it.

It appears to be working, said Matthews, who frequently checks on the two boxes set up so far -- one at the corner of George and Fussell streets, the other at the corner of Spruce of Slocumb.

Oftentimes, the containers are empty, she said, demonstrating the prevalent need for the outreach.

But it also illustrates the kindness and generosity of spirit from this community, she pointed out.

That's the reason for the Facebook page moniker, Blessing Box GOLDsboro, the first syllable capitalized.

"There's gold in Goldsboro, just to see there's some good things here, some good things happening here," she said. "People are the gold."

Now she would like to expand on the concept, bringing more awareness and in turn reaching more people, she says.

"This is just something that I wanted to give, a gift to the city that has gifted me so much," she said. "The goal right now is to get it in every district and to encourage people to build one of their own.

"When you mix passion with action, a lot of things happen."

There are imminent plans to install a third Blessing Box, in the vicinity of a side street off Wayne Memorial Drive near Brian Center, Matthews said.

It's been interesting to watch the scenario unfold, she said. Once the hole is dug, the concrete poured and set and then the box is installed, organizers typically leave it empty a couple days to generate buzz.

"People are somewhat skeptical about new things," she said. "But once people know what it is and that it's something we have as a community, I just love what happens."

She encourages area residents to become part of the mission -- either by donating items or setting up more of the containers in their neighborhoods.

"I always tell people, I want you to give from the desire of your heart, whatever you'd want people to have," she said.