Reverend Marg Misener stands next to the Blessing Box at the Church of St. John the Divine. Scott Stanfield photo

Reverend Marg Misener stands next to the Blessing Box at the Church of St. John the Divine. Scott Stanfield photo

Pantry service pays it forward

A Blessing Box operates outside the Church of St. John the Divine

It’s anonymous, and it’s free. Take what you need, give what you can.

Pay it forward, if you will.

Since last Thanksgiving, a free food pantry called a Blessing Box has been operating outside the Church of St. John the Divine on Fifth Street in Courtenay. Father Anthony Divinagracia initiated the service after noticing a Facebook post from a priest who started a pantry service in Duncan.

“People can donate anonymously, and people can get goods in the middle of the night, if they wish,” Divinagracia said. “They can access it 24/7, and they don’t have to fill out any forms. This is our way of giving back to the community in our own little, humble way.”

Reverend Marg Misener, an outreach minister at St. John the Divine, recalls a mother and child passing by the church. The child was hungry, but the mother wasn’t sure if she should open the pantry. So Misener picked up a bag of Goldfish cheddar cheese crackers and asked if her child might be interested. The answer, of course, was a resounding yes.

“It’s growing in popularity,” Misener said. “It’s to take small quantities, not to replenish your pantry. If you take everything, someone’s gonna’ go hungry tonight.”

A new parishioner constructed the box, and a retiree installed the posts. Divinagracia hopes the idea catches on throughout the Comox Valley — like the lending libraries that have popped up in various neighbourhoods.

Anyone wishing to help is asked to restrict donations to non-perishable food items. Simply unlatch the door, and place them on the shelves.

The Blessing Box had contained a community prayer box where people could write a message. But the box was vandalized, so it was removed.

The church is located at 579 Fifth St.

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