The hungry people in Watertown, NY, have a front yard they can visit for food. Roman Espinoza has set up a tiny food pantry on his lawn; he calls it a "Blessing Box" and people can either donate items or take them if they need them. "There's not a lock on it—it's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," the retired soldier, 46, tells CNN. Though the idea was his, he says the community fills up the box and he rarely has to add much to it himself. And it doesn't hold just food: People donate other essentials like toiletries. Espinoza says others in the community have even asked him for help putting up their own Blessing Boxes; he hopes to have "a few around town" soon.
"Take What You Need. Bring What You Can. Above All, Be Blessed," reads a sign on the box. Per the Watertown Daily Times, Blessing Boxes are becoming more common across the country. NPR reported on the trend in January, noting that boxes appear in front of businesses, churches, and residential homes alike. "The products that are stocked are put directly inside the pantry and turnover is in about 30 to 45 minutes," says an Arkansas woman who ran one of the first such boxes, which she calls a "little free pantry." "The frequency of the turnover and the fact that other sites in town are also turning over that frequently ... suggests to me that the need is tremendous."