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New York church installs ‘blessing box’ for neighbors surviving harsh winter amid COVID lockdowns

Blessing Box
A "Blessing Box" installed on the property of St. James Episcopal Church of Batavia, New York. The box began offering services to the less fortunate in February 2021. |

A congregation in New York has installed a “blessing box” on their church property to provide food and clothing for those in need during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

St. James Episcopal Church of Batavia installed the box on Tuesday and filled it with various items, including food, toiletries, hats, gloves, socks, and face masks on Wednesday.

The box was the product of a collaboration between St. James Episcopal and three other nearby churches: Batavia First Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Batavia, and Resurrection Roman Catholic Church.

In comments emailed to The Christian Post on Thursday, St. James Episcopal Deacon Diana Leiker said the blessing box derived from members of the congregation feeling “that a ministry to serve the un-housed and under-served population was needed.”

“The city of Batavia has people who are trying to survive in the middle of a Western New York winter during times that are more challenging than ever,” said Leiker.

In addition to the other churches’ involvement, St. James Episcopal also applied for and received grant money for the project from the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

Aside from the various food, clothing, and other items available, the blessing box also includes a prayer box with a slot where people can place prayer requests written on index cards.

“One person will collect the requests twice a week and share them with the larger group, so we can hold people up in prayer on our own and on church prayer lists,” Leiker added.

“There are also cards that contain resources and places to go for help throughout the community of Batavia, for people who don't have access to media.”

As part of the effort to continue to fuel support for the blessing box, a Facebook group was created to help keep people informed about what supplies are needed.

“There is a new structure in front of St. James Episcopal Church on East Main Street in Batavia. It is quite a bit smaller than the church, but don’t let the size of this Blessing Box diminish its mission,” stated the group.

Leiker believed that the box was “a way for all of us to let our neighbors know we ‘see’ them and they are not forgotten,” referencing a Zulu greeting called “Sawubona,” or “I see you.”

“This is what we are doing when we respond to Matthew 25:35, ‘for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,’” Leiker added.

“We are working with each other, united in purpose, to be Christ in the world and we are blessed by collaborating and meeting new people along the way.”

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