Renee Collins knows what it’s like to feel desperation and heartache.
She has risen above her personal tragedies, however, to team with friend Joe Pullin to do something to help those in need.
Their mission: To build and install ‘Blessing Boxes’ throughout Lorain County.
Made of weatherproof materials and installed on both city and private properties free of charge, the Boxes are stocked with donated provisions that are there for the taking for those in need.
“They are unlocked and opened every day to anyone in need,” says Renee, who works as a volunteer at a North Ridgeville food pantry. “Myself and others and the community fill the boxes with canned foods, hygiene products and temperature-change items. We have four installed throughout Lorain County and six more to be installed in May and June.”
In June, Renee and Joe will join with Avon city officials to hold a Blessing Box ribbon-cutting in Avon. The box will be located between the Police and Fire Stations along Detroit Road.
Renee’s inspiration comes as a remarkable response to personal tragedy in her own life.
“Myself and my daughters experienced tragedy when my first husband passed away,” reports Renee. “We struggled and needed help as I didn’t qualify under certain income guidelines. We barely made it.”
But, Renee promised herself to make a difference in the lives of others when times changed.
“I made up my mind that I would help those in need when I was able to,” she says.
Those challenging times have now passed and Renee has since remarried. She also met Joe Pullin, a like-minded friend with a drive to help others.
“I have remarried, and I also met Joe Pullin and his family,” says Renee. “We decided to try Blessing Boxes to help those in need.”
Their mission is simple: “No one should go hungry,” says Renee. “We are helping people one Blessing Box at a time!”
“We fill these boxes with things like food, hats, gloves, and personal hygiene things,” reports Joe, who has launched a Go Fund Me page. “The boxes are to help anyone in need who may be hungry, or just need hats or gloves for them or their families. These boxes are located in several areas and we are trying to build more. We want them in as many places as we can put them.”
Watch for monthly meet-ups or run-walk event fundraisers for Blessing Boxes this summer.
“Please join us at anytime to donate or just run/ walk with our wonderful group,” says Joe, who has been building and paying for most of the construction and purchase of all the boxes, and the installation. They cost about $75-100 per box with installation. Any donation will help.
“You never know who may be hungry in the middle of the night, with no one to go to. We hope we can help just a little bit,” adds Joe.
Visit their Facebook page, Blessing Box by Renee Collins and Joe Pullin. Community Champions! Stay tuned for the Avon Blessing Box ribbon-cutting day in June.