GIVING BACK: LaPlace woman creates community food pantry with blessing box

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

LAPLACE — Lashonda Stirgus of LaPlace has always had a heart for helping others.

For the past two months, she’s promoted goodwill in the community with a blessing box in her front yard that allows people to give what they have or take what they need.

Lashonda Stirgus

The blessing box, located at 1604 Ellerslie Avenue in LaPlace, functions as a miniature food pantry. Residents can stop by and fill the box with food, toiletries or clothing donations.

People struggling with food or financial insecurity can take what they need, no questions asked.

Stirgus saw the blessing box idea on Facebook and enlisted the help of a friend to build it.

She’s seen a spike in community interest recently and hopes the project will expand to reach more people.

“I wish I could have more people come out,” Stirgus said.

“Most people think it’s a good idea and a blessing. Some people think if they can’t put something in, they can’t take something out, and that’s not true. You don’t have to leave something to take what you need.”

After hearing about the blessing box, Tee Daniels of LaPlace dropped off beans and a few bags of lentil casserole. She said the box offers a comforting anonymity to individuals who might be scared or embarrassed to admit they are struggling.

“I donated because there are a lot of people here who need help but won’t ask for it,” Daniels said.

“The blessing box, the way it’s set up, people can pass by and get something without having to ask for help.”

According to Daniels, her first donation to the box won’t be her last.

Stirgus said she’s seen a few people come and go, adding to and taking from the box. However, she mostly leaves people to their own devices, noting a majority of donation swaps take place when she’s not watching.

She has placed a box underneath the blessing box stand for larger donations. Extra items can also be placed in front of her garage.

Collecting extra items in her garage allows Stirgus to replenish the blessing box as it empties and keep the resource readily available to the community.

People have dropped off everything from canned goods to Pampers diapers, Stirgus said, and the box will remain up for as long as it’s needed.

For more information about the 1604 Ellerslie Avenue blessing box, contact Stirgus at 985-722-0411 or message Shine Brown on Facebook.