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An example of a community blessing box, which provides basic necessities, is shown.

HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine has launched a blessing box program, through which it will partner with local organizations throughout southern West Virginia to help meet basic needs.

“A key component of health, well-being and long-term recovery is food security,” said Tina Ramirez, director of the Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care, who is administering the program. “The ‘take what you need, leave what you can’ philosophy behind blessing boxes meets an immediate need and will therefore be a blessing to both the donor and the recipient.”

The Community Blessing Box Program is funded through a grant from the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington. In addition to nonperishable food items, basic toiletries and baby supplies, such as wipes or diapers, are accepted at all blessing box locations. The project mirrors the model developed by Community Connections Inc., which partners with donors to supply blessing boxes in southeastern West Virginia.

The project, spearheaded by the division of addiction sciences in the department of family and community health at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will partner with the following organizations to each build two boxes, manage the boxes or both:

  • Children’s Home Society (Boone and Mingo counties)
  • First Baptist Church of Kenova (Wayne County)
  • Grace Gospel Church (Cabell County)
  • Kenova United Methodist Church (Wayne County)
  • Lincoln County Family Resource Network (Lincoln County)
  • Mason County Family Resource Network (Mason County)
  • Sand Run Gospel Tabernacle (Kanawha County)

Sostento Inc. (Boone County)

  • Southern West Virginia Health System (Lincoln and Logan counties)
  • Town of Delbarton (Mingo County)
  • Upper Kanawha Valley Sports and Activity Center (Kanawha County)
  • West Virginia Ray of Hope Foundation (Cabell County)

In addition to purchasing building and initial supplies to stock the blessing boxes, Marshall says the School of Medicine will work with the community partners to build support for donations; provide educational materials/resources in the blessing box (substance use treatment and recovery, mental health and tobacco/vaping cessation); and participate in monthly calls with other awardees to foster problem solving and sustainability planning.

For more information, contact Ramirez at ramirezt@marshall.edu.

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