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Fredericktown United Methodist Church unveiled a Blessings Box as a way to provide anonymous support and help to those in need 24/7.

The box is a cabinet attached to the south side of the church and will be available all times of the day or night and will be stocked with things such as food items, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, small clothing items, cleaning supplies and more.

The Rev. Bryan Schaefer, Pastor of Fredericktown United Methodist Church, said anything that can fit in the box and could be helpful to someone is welcome.

"They can just pull up, take what they need and then be on their way," Schaefer said. "It's operating under the simple motto of, take what you need, leave what you can and in all things be blessed."

Donations can be made and items can be taken by anyone, meaning this assistance is open to all.

"This is absolutely community wide," Schaefer said. "We are a family of faith that believes practicing our faith calls us to be outwardly, rather than inwardly focused." 

Schaefer said they are being called by Christ to reach out and serve their neighbor in ways that can make a true difference in their life.  

"Being located so close to the center of town, we are always looking for ways that we can be serving the community around us and providing for those in need," Schaefer said. "You do not need to be a member of our church, or of any church to take items from the Blessings Box. You are welcome here."

Items being place in the Blessings Box are those that can help people with needs such as toiletries, hygiene, cleaning and other things which come up in life.

Schaefer says the only request is that items being place in the box be non-perishable and are items which would have some weather resistance.

"Even though the items are in the box and under an overhang, they are outside," Schaefer said. "So, we would like not to have anything that could be spoiled or damaged by humidity or hot and cold weather."

Donations can be made simply by driving up to the Blessings Box and leaving the items in there.

"If you're going to the store and want to pick up an extra roll of toilet paper or tube of toothpaste, another bag of diapers or stick of deodorant, bring them by and leave them in the box for others to use," Schaefer said. "Sometimes driving by before you go to the store and seeing what might be needed inside would be a great way to know exactly what to pick up and bring back."

Schaefer said items can also be accepted at the church office, and anytime you see someone at the church, items can be dropped off inside.

"Part of it being available at all times is that we want it to be available whenever the need might arise," Schaefer said. "There are times when someone in need might have something arise that is outside of business hours of some of our other social service organizations in the area."

Schaefer said there may also be some resistance toward heading to organizations which need information and personal details.

"This is a way of helping people that is available all the time and no information is required," Schaefer said. "It is not something that is going to give someone everything they need, but it is our hope and prayer that it helps people get through some rough patches and make some difficult times in their life a little easier."

Schaefer said times can be tough and difficulties can pop up out of nowhere. There are people in need in our community and everywhere.

"One moment you think you have everything covered and the next, it all falls apart around you," Schaefer said. "If we can be a way of making those times in life easier, or just giving someone what they need to make it through a lean couple of days, then we are happy and honored to be able to do so."

The Fredericktown United Methodist Church has long held the coat bazaar each year and has held giveaways of household items while collecting for the Fredericktown School Catpack program.

"This is another way for us to practice what we see our faith calling us to do by loving our neighbor and reaching outside our walls to serve those in need," Schaefer said. "We are always looking for ways that we can be a congregation that sees a need and, instead of lamenting about how bad it is, finds a way to say how can we help?"

Scheafer said the church has a team which is tasked with building fellowship within the family and finding new ways to serve people around them in love.

"We believe that to be a part of our DNA and an essential facet of our identity as Christians and as human beings," Schaefer said. "Serving others is who we are and what we do. We are not perfect and we cannot solve every need, but what we can help we will, and we will always do so with love, with respect and with kindness."

The church hopes to continue the Blessings Box for years to come and plans to continue its support of the community in love through its ministry.

The Blessings Box can be found at the church at 216 S. Main Street in Fredericktown.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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