A familiar face has partnered with Healing Outreach Ministry of Equality to help fight the local hunger problem.
Maxwell Blade, the namesake of the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic & Comedy, helped to build and install a blessing box at 108 Palmetto St. on Friday next to Miss Ida's House of Care & Love and the Langston Aerospace and Environmental Magnet School.
The box is a place for people to give and take necessities such as canned and dried foods, water, hygiene products, crackers and other basics. Organizers said cans with a pull top are best for those who may not have access to can openers.
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"I see a need around this community and other communities," Blade said. "So, I see a need for a lot of these, I'll donate my time to build 10 more, or however many we need."
Tim Looper, the administrator of Healing Outreach Ministry of Equality, said his group started putting together the boxes seven years ago after seeing others like them in various communities. Since building the first box in Hot Springs Village, a number of people requested more boxes to be built elsewhere.
To date, the group has placed boxes at Spa Area Independent Living Services, 225 Hazel St., Leonard Street Baptist Church and 3638 Highway 7 north alongside the newest box.
"What we did here, is we have started taking sponsors," Looper said. "We're hoping by the end of the year, we're looking at probably eight or 10 more boxes."
Looper's group is also currently delivering "blessing bags" to 10 houses of shut-ins who are not able to leave their homes to get to one of the several boxes. He believes that by the end of the summer, they may be delivering to 20 homes.
Looper said other organizations are also getting involved, such as churches and the new LGBTQ+ Community Network.
"Well, I just simply, I'm a friend of Tim's," Blade said. "I saw a need, and I thought, 'Hey, I'll build a box.'"
According to Blade, the box cost a couple of hundred dollars to build and only a few days to put together and install. With the support of locals and organizations, Looper said the box sustains itself as people generously give and only take what they need at the moment.
He said his participation is not needed as sponsors can adopt a location to ensure the box is maintained and stocked.
"We've got several organizations that have stepped up and, like I said, it's a community effort and everybody has stepped up," Looper said. "We're trying to put 'em where the need is most."
To sponsor a box, call Healing Outreach Ministry of Equality at 501-617-3073, email [email protected] or call Blade at 501-623-6200.
"Take if you need, give when you can," Blade said, reading the sign posted on the door of the blessing box.