Church feeds hungry with "Blessing Box"

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COLUMBIA - Every few days, Pastor Max Jennings makes the walk down Discovery Church's driveway. Not to check the mail, but to fill up the other box at the entrance to their property. This one they've titled the "Blessing Box."

"This is an opportunity to provide something for the community without any strings attached," Jennings said. 

He filled the wooden box with canned goods, macaroni and cheese boxes and other nonperishable food items. Beside it hangs a sign that reads, "This is a Blessing Box. Take what you can, leave what you can. Above all be blessed. Caring is sharing."

The congregation built the box last year after church member Jerry Noble got the idea watching the news one night.

"Lester Holt, he had a story about a Blessing Box in St Joe, Missouri and I thought, 'You know, that's something we can do because out here on this end of town nobody should go hungry,'" Noble said.

The church's members bring in the food on their own dime and have made it their outreach  mission.

"That Blessing Box might not be much, but if it will provide one meal a week for somebody that's hungry with kids or whoever out here, that's okay." Noble said. "You can't talk to people about God if they're hungry. Even God provided a meal."

This street-side food pantry isn't the only thing that makes this church different. Their address on Mexico Gravel Road sets them apart, too.

"We looked at the number of churches, number of Christian churches and we looked at the crime rate and various factors," Jennings said. "If there's ever a place where a church needs to be planted it's Northeast Columbia."

Jennings said he's been surprised at how often he has to restock the Blessing Box and it's opened his eyes.

"It breaks your heart to realize who is going to bed hungry because they don't have any food and we who have over abundance assume everybody does, but this Blessing Box has told us, 'Back up and look again,'" he said.

It's a double take this congregation is doing to help their neighbors.

"You get satisfaction when you know you've given something and they can't give back, that is the greatest joy," Jennings said.

He said they aren't sure who is using the Blessing Box. Church members have seen people who don't go to the church help fill up the box on their own accord. They've also had two notes left inside the box. One simply read, "I'm so thankful." Another note included a $10 donation.

"It just flies off the shelf as quick as it goes up there," Jennings said. "This is just an extension of trying to help where there is a great need."