man creates blessing box on his lawn
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
December 2, 2023 ·  3 min read

Blessing Box: Man Constructs a Food Pantry On His Lawn To Feed The Less Privileged

“Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time.” – Ron Hall.

Changing the world isn’t about casting one huge spell to make life better for everyone. It’s in the little things, the small acts, and the tiny gestures. This is why sometimes we need to highlight stories both new and old to highlight that there is plenty of good in this world. 

Roman Espinoza, 46, from Watertown, New York, was touched by the display of kindness he saw at the local community college where he was taking Human Services classes. The college had a pantry where food items are stored to feed students in need. The army veteran was inspired to do something similar for his community.

Many people share their old books with their neighbors free of any charges on their lawns. Shelves called Little Free Libraries usually contain books a person no longer has a use for and would want to share with other readers in his neighborhood. The idea was invented by a non-profit organization known as Little Free Library that aims to foster a love of reading and community sharing spirit. The exchanges are registered with the organization for safe-keeping by volunteers. 

Although books are great, they may not be a top priority to people who are constantly worrying about where the next meal would come from. In 2017, Espinoza decided to start a pantry similar to the one at his college where the needy could take food freely and at any time of the day. He’s not the sole benefactor of the “Blessing Box”, as the pantry was named. Neighbors and passers-by are welcome to donate food items to keep the charity going.

The pantry is not merely for food. Other necessities can also be donated

Speaking to CNN, Espinoza says that the box is a way to foster unity in the community [1].

“The box itself is for the community and it’s sustained by the community,” he said. “The community, the neighborhood and my block have been really supportive.”

He says that people also donate other items and personal effects which the less privileged may not be able to afford on their own. They try not to donate things that would be of no use to anyone.

We try and put stuff in there that makes sense — toothpaste, toothbrushes, band-aids….some soap and shampoo. We don’t know who uses it — sometimes people feel like they are embarrassed to use the box in the middle of the day,” Espinoza said.

For this reason, the box is kept open 24 hours a day so no one would ever feel ashamed of going close the box in broad daylight. There’s no shame in receiving a little help from your neighbors and friends, though. However, it’s important to let people maintain their dignity in any way they deem fit.

Visions for the Blessing Box

No one in the community is expecting any rewards or praises for helping their own. They are only hoping that other people would be inspired to sustain Blessing Boxes in other parts of the town. The sole purpose is to provide for the needy and the homeless.

“I’ve gotten a couple of requests from people around town for boxes for their property,” Espinoza said. “With any luck, we’ll have a few around town where people can be made aware of them and make use of them. Watertown, New York, in the next five years, could be known as the city of blessing boxes.”

What’s arguably even more amazing is that his town did follow. By early 2018 his town — Watertown, New York — has over 20 boxes [3]. What inspiration. 

Morals, ethics, empathy, and kindness are not taught in schools. They are acquired by observation and learning from the examples of those who have learned and are practicing. No one has ever become poor by giving.

  1. Toropin, Konstantin. Man builds a food pantry on his lawn so the hungry can eat. CNN. Retrieved 17-07-19
  2. Little Free Library. Official website. Retrieved 17-07-19
  3. Toropin, Konstantin. He built a food pantry in his lawn for the hungry. His town followed. CNN. Retrieved 17-07-19