A free food box provides helps St. John families in need.

An accidental inspiration is helping feed hungry families in St. John. Paxton's Blessing Box, located at 303 North Broadway and south of M&M Laundromat, has been providing free food and personal hygiene items for those in need in St. John.

City Clerk Jamie Getty was browsing Facebook and discovered Paxton's Blessing Box and liked what she saw.

"I stumbled upon this organization through Facebook and thought is was a really good idea to be able to help our community," Getty said.

The program is simple. People place nonperishable food and personal hygiene items in a public access box and those that need the items are free to take what they need. Anyone can donate to the box and anyone in need can get what they need, free of charge, and it's all anonymous.

The motto of the Blessing Box is: "Take a blessing when you need one. Leave a blessing when you can." Getty wanted this to be a gift to the community to help make life a little better.

"I know that life can be tough sometimes," Getty said. "The community can use a little bit of good."

Getty needed some help getting started with the project and Heath Getty of Red Cedar Land Management stepped up as a sponsor to get things going.

"He was more than willing to help out such a great cause for our community," Getty said.

The box was set up in September 2018 and the response has been good. People are donating food and food has been going out regularly. People can either drop off food at the box or leave it at the city office and they will make sure it gets in the box. Most people just put donated items directly in the box with just a couple taking items to the city office, Getty said.

Paxton's Blessing Box has also been set up in Stafford.

Paxton's Blessing Box got started in Wichita when a mother, Maggie Ballard, found the idea on social media and shared a photo of the box with her son Paxton. They both thought their house would be a perfect place for a blessing box. A friend built the first box and they filled it with non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products. It has been stocked by donations ever since. There are 21 blessing boxes in Kansas and one in North Carolina, according to www.paxtonsblessingbox.com.

Items for the blessing box need to be non-perishable food items or hygiene items. Some suggested food items include: bottled water, cheese or peanut butter crackers, beer jerky, applesauce, pudding, fruit cups, granola bars, power bars, cereal bars, single serving Chef-Boy-R-Dee items, Ravioli/spaghettios, single serving soups (with pull tab openings), fruit snacks, dried fruits, peanut butter, any kind of pasta spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and fruit (with pull top openings), macaroni and cheese, individually packaged chips/pretzels/Goldfish, boxed drinks and juices, Vienna sausages (with pull top lids), pop tarts, plastic spoons, gallon-size ziplock bags, canned tuna, bags of rice or beans.