A wooden box with a glass door sits on the campus of Ardmore Moravian Church as both an offering of kindness and an experiment in human nature.

Inside the box at 2013 W. Academy St. is a small supply of nonperishable food items, church brochures, a yellow pad for prayer requests and a simple handwritten note: “Take what you need ... bring what you can ... above all be blessed.”

The items include a jar of peanut butter, a box of macaroni and cheese, Vienna sausages and cans of soup.

Church members conducted a dedication of what they call a blessing box following their Sunday service.

“Our plan is to keep the blessing box fully stocked as often as we can. We don’t intend for it to ever sit empty,” said the Rev. Chaz Snider, the church’s pastor.

Snider said the box will remain unlocked at all times, similar to the little library containers that have popped up in places such as the Ardmore neighborhood, downtown Winston-Salem and the Tanglewood campgrounds.

“We hope it will be seen as a sign of church outreach into our community,” Snider said.

Snider said the church is not focusing on a particularly demographic, but rather trying to assist low-income individuals and families, the elderly, young people just starting life on their own, the unemployed and the underemployed.

“The church sits in the middle of two distinct parts of town where the diversity is great and the need is often great,” Snider said.

The idea for the blessing box came from Terri Kessler and her aunt, Joyce Leonard, along with the church’s ladies circle.

They thought having a similar box to the little libraries providing food would be a way for the church to help neighbors and others in need. Leonard’s husband, Larry, built the box.

“The ladies circle has been doing blessing bags of water bottles, granola bars and other food items to offer to homeless individuals for a number of years,” Kessler said.

“We’re not a large church, so a food pantry or a clothing closet is beyond our ability to manage, but we thought a blessing box could help serve as another light in our community.”

Both Kessler and Snider said they and the church dedicated the blessing box knowing it could be quickly ransacked, vandalized and destroyed.

“It is a bit of an adventure into the unknown of human nature but this is different from a food pantry,” Snider said

“As Christians, we are very familiar with how human nature works, so we may have to adjust our monitoring and stocking of food depending on how the blessing box is treated.”

Kessler said the church is committed to the blessing box “because we don’t want anyone to have to go hungry if we can help it. We can’t just sit here and do nothing knowing the need is great.”

“We’re hopeful that other churches and other groups will borrow our idea and create their own blessing boxes.

“Even if just one person is served by this ministry, we will have loved our neighbor as ourselves,” Kessler said.

rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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