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Boxes intended as a blessing to the hungry

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“Leave what you can. Take what you need.”

Anonymity, simplicity and altruism are the principles behind the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project, the wooden boxes filled with pantry staples that have popped up in front of homes, churches and businesses throughout the Lowcountry.

A blessing box sits outside a home near the corner of Fishburne Street and Ashley Avenue in downtown Charleston’s Westside neighborhood. (Photo/Liz Segrist)

Learn more

  • More information on starting a Blessing Box is online.
  • Guidelines on preferred items for the boxes are listed online. Baby items, nonperishable foods, pop-top cans and foods that can be used to make a meal are ideal.

Charleston resident Katie Dahlheim founded the nonprofit last year around that give-and-take concept. Anyone can set up a box, anyone can fill the boxes with nonperishable food items or toiletries, and anyone can take whatever they need.

Dahlheim said the boxes are ideally situated in low-income or mixed-income communities so that they are close to people who might be in need and to those without cars. She said her goal for the boxes is to help area residents fight food insecurity.

“I don’t know how many people use it or what they take,” she said. “It’s all anonymous — but that’s the beauty of it.”

Dahlheim, an attorney, was inspired to launch the project after reading about Jessica McClard’s Little Free Pantry project in Arkansas. McClard launched that project in 2016 based on the Little Free Library concept.

Dahlheim bought four old cabinets and repurposed them, adding glass doors and wooden shelves. She connected with Lowcountry residents who were willing to put them up in front of their homes.

“It really exploded from there,” she said. “We have 31 now. I never expected there to be 31.”

The 31 boxes are scattered throughout the Lowcountry, reaching as far as Eutawville and McClellanville. Dahlheim said anyone with private land can set up a box; she has seen the most success with boxes outside of small businesses, churches and homes.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119.

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