Talon News - Good Local News

By Jacque Ritchie



Jacque Ritchie

The Blessing Box

According to the San Juan County website 20 percent of the population in SJC live below the poverty line. Flora Vista resident, Melinda Lough decided to lend a helping hand by starting the Blessing Box food share project. The idea is a simple one, set up a refrigerator in an easily accessible location. People then can take food out when they need it and put food in when they can afford to donate. "But it only works if it goes both ways," Lough said. "There are always people who are in need and are too proud to ask for help." Lough said that the "anonymous element" of the Blessing Box helps people retain their dignity even through challenging circumstances. "I am a single mom of two and I know how it feels to go through hard times," Lough recalls. Currently Lough works for a manufacturing company and is a self-described "local entrepreneur." She said the Blessing Box project is a way to give back to the community. Lough asked,"What can we do to help those in need? Who can we help? How can we best help the most people?...I know it sounds kinda cheesy, but hey, it's what we gotta do to make the world a better place."

The Blessing Box project was inspired by a cousin's Facebook post about a similar food sharing project. Lough said, "I was just scrolling through Facebook one day and I thought, Wow! We could do that!"

Jacque Ritchie

Celestia Keeling adds a package of chicken to the Blessing Box at the VFW in Aztec

Lough is quick to point out, "I did not do this alone, a lot of people helped out." The first refrigerator is covered in the original NM themed artwork designed by Nate Dewees of No Coast Customz. Troy and Robin Gonzales, owner operators of No Coast Customz in Aztec, have been instrumental in starting the fledgling food share project. "We've both been in positions where we needed help in one way or another. Sometimes it's hard to ask for help...this way (with the Blessing Box) you're not being judged." Robin Gonzales said, "It's a karma thing really, when we needed it people just seemed to be there somehow...Now our goal is to help others however we can." Gonzales said, "We have several refrigerators ready to go, we just need places to put them." To donate paint for artwork or to offer a location for a Blessing Box contact Troy and Robin Gonzales at No Coast Customz, located on Hwy. 575 across from the new District 7 fire station or call (505) 634-6608.

The Blessing Box is currently at VFW Post 614 in Aztec. Lough thought the location gives, "easier access to more people."

VFW Post Commander Abe Saiz said, "Our food sharing program is our way of sharing within the community. Of course our main focus is on vets, but anyone in need is welcome." Saiz explains, "We really try to concentrate on doing food drives especially during the holidays we give out food boxes and gifts too." Saiz said that the post is open to take in donations or give out donations Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. "If you know of any vets or families in need, call us." Aztec VFW is located at 201 S. Park (505) 334-8842.

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