CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — Take what you need, bring what you can.
That’s the motto of the Blessing Box.
It’s the brainchild of Cumberland resident Christina Riendeau, who was inspired by the Little Free Library Project to create a donation box for non-perishable foods, toiletry and hygiene items, and other supplies.
The Blessing Box is located outside St. Aiden and St. Patrick Parish on Diamond Hill Road, and it’s cause close to Riendeau’s heart.
“I completely understand what people are going through,” Riendeau said. “Growing up, we were a low-income family, so I definitely saw my mother go through situations where we had to make some tough decisions between bills and food.”
“This is definitely something I would have appreciated growing up,” she continued.
Riendeau said what’s most gratifying are the notes left by those the Blessing Box has helped.
“I thought at first I would get notes with suggestions, but I’ve mostly received notes of gratitude,” she said. “It’s evolved into something much bigger than I anticipated.”
Riendeau shared a few of the recent notes she’s received.
“I am homeless through no fault of my own and this pantry literally is the difference between life and death,” one read. “Thank you.”
“Thank you so much,” another said. “I have meals for all of my kids for the whole week.”
It’s these notes that make it more than just a donation box to Riendeau.
“It’s not just some type of physical box out there,” Riendeau said. “It’s helping people and building relationships with people.”
“We’ve brought people into the parish,” she continued. “You can just see the sense of relief for people knowing they have a reliable resource, one where there is no judgement and no income limits. They just feel that sense of peace when they come here.”
And it’s not the only donation box in town.
Boy Scout Robert Kenyon of Troop 12 Berkley-Ashton recently created his own “Giving Box,” which now sits outside of St. Joseph’s Church on Mendon Road.
His inspiration? Riendeau’s Blessing Box.
“This church didn’t have one, so I just gave it to them,” he said. “For me personally, it gives me an aspect of pride knowing that I helped out the community in a great way by giving back to people in need.”
Both Riendeau and Kenyon told 12 News their boxes can be accessed at anytime by anyone who wants to either donate to or benefit from it.