If you drive past Grace Presbyterian Church in Dawsonville, you may spot three wooden structures outside the church doors. These birdhouse-like structures, wooden boxes attached to poles and cemented into the ground, include two of Dawsonville’s “Little Free Library” locations.
But the third and newest box, which is filled with canned and dry foods and even face masks and small bottles of hand sanitizer, is a local girl scout project aimed at giving back to the community.
“When we were younger we didn’t have much to eat, and when we moved here we started getting much more,” local girl scout Alivia Berry said. “So I just felt the need to help the less fortunate or those who maybe don’t have enough to eat at night.”
Berry said that the project, which she has named her “Blessing Box”, wasn’t her original project idea. But when she realized there is a need in the community, she decided to change her project.
“Originally this was not my project; my project was internet safety,” Berry said. “But when I started volunteering at more food pantries and realizing how much we need food pantries, I decided I was gonna make this my project instead.”
Berry and her mother, Claudia Berry, started brainstorming ideas of where to put the Blessing Box. Through the help of social networking website Nextdoor, they found Grace Presbyterian Church in Dawsonville and its pastor, David Jordan.
“Someone we found on Nextdoor said her parents go here, and she said ‘they already have a free library here too’, so we came here,” Claudia Berry said.
Jordan said that when the Berrys reached out to him about putting the Blessing Box at his church, he was fully onboard with the idea.
“We have two ‘Little Free Libraries’ which were actually the first ones in Dawson County, so we were already accustomed to the idea of something like this,” Jordan said.
Alivia Berry purchased the wooden box, painted it in colors to match the church itself, and worked with a contractor to attach the box to a pole and cement the pole into the ground. She then filled it with nonperishable foods and added a sign to the front inviting anyone to take what they need or leave what they can.
Claudia Berry said that when her daughter began her project, she quickly gained support from friends, family and community members who wanted to help with the project.
“Once she actually got started, she did get a lot of donations rolling in,” Claudia Berry said. “They came through with the food, they came through with the money to help purchase the box, so she’s got a lot of support from the community members, her friends and her family.”
The Blessing Box has been up for about three weeks, and Alivia Berry said that her hope is that more people will learn about it and be able to come take what they need from it. According to Berry, she has had several offers from other community members to help replenish the contents of the box once it starts getting low.
“We put it on Nextdoor, and a lot of the community members said that after it starts getting low they can kind of have a little bit of responsibility of adding stuff back in,” Alivia Berry said.
The Blessing Box project is the last step in Alivia Berry’s current level of the Girl Scouts, and she will be moving on to her next level and her next project. According to both Alivia and Claudia Berry, if this Blessing Box takes off in the community she may continue to add another one in another location as part of her next project.
To visit the Blessing Box and either take or leave food items, you can visit Grace Presbyterian Church at 170 Hwy. 9 N, Dawsonville, GA 30534.