MASON CITY, Iowa - You may have seen little free libraries, where one can pick up a book from a freestanding box that sits in front of one's yard, while also leaving one behind.
Now imagine if there's a kind of box that had food and clothing inside.
It's now reality at Holy Family Catholic Church on North Adams in Mason City. Called 'the Blessing Box', it has canned and boxed food like macaroni and cheese and ravioli, as well as scarves and gloves, soap and other essential items.
Laura Doerfler is part of Epiphany Parish's Social Justice Committee that helped get the box going. She credits another committee member for discovering the concept, and knew that it was something that needed to be created locally.
"There's nothing worse than being hungry. And maybe your head's cold and you're walking, you have no transportation, wherever you have to go you have to walk. So a hat on your head and gloves on your hands, it's great. And something in your stomach to tide you over."
Though it's only been up for about a week and a half, there's already been a strong response.
"One of our members was here, and a gentleman took a hat and gloves, and he thanked the woman that was filling the box that day.
"I came by at 10:30 [Tuesday morning] and filled up the box, came back here at 12:30, and probably half of the things I've put here in the box are gone. I like to be a little fly on the wall and see who came by, but it's great that we're able to help people. That was our goal, and thrilled that they come by and we need to put more things in the box."
The box was designed free of charge by students at North Iowa Area Community College. As of now, the box in front of Holy Family is the only one planned, but more could pop up around town eventually.
For those that would like to donate items for the box, you can simply drop off items inside the box, as well as donation bins inside both Holy Family and St. Joseph's churches in Mason City.
A suggested list of items include;
Food: macaroni, tuna, soup, canned stew, peanut butter, crackers, bread, small snacks and non-perishable foods
Toiletries: Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, tampons, deodorant and baby wipes
Clothing: Hats, mittens, socks and hand warmers