Winter is a cold and hungry time for many people in need.
Fulton's Community of Christ church is helping feed those people with its new Blessing Box.
"We have a small congregation with a large geographical representation, and we have a hard time getting everyone together," church member and Fulton resident Craig Snethen said.
Of the church's approximately 20 members, several live as far away as Bowling Green, making weekday meetings hard to arrange, Snethen said.
"I tried to think of something we can do as outreach that would allow us all to be involved, not just the people that live in Fulton," he said. "We have more money than time."
He came up with the Blessing Box. Built from a repurposed "book nook" with help from a grant by his denomination's regional headquarters, the box at 905 Nichols St. in Fulton contains free easy-to-prepare food items. Unlike a soup kitchen or food cupboard, it's open 24/7.
"We know we're not going to reach all the need, but we're looking to supplement people at best," Snethen said.
He said the box is open to anyone who feels they are in need.
"It's open season as far as that goes," he said. "We want to have an opportunity for people to take if they have a need, and that's up to them to decide."
The slogan on a painted board beneath the box states, "Take what you need, give what you can." That's the attitude Snethen wants to foster.
Congregants have been stocking the Blessing Box for the past three weeks. Snethen has been spreading word about the box around the neighborhood.
"We had people who were already reaching for their cupboards," he said. "They wanted to help out."
He hopes that over time, it becomes routine for Fulton residents to drop off donations when they have extra food.
Blessing Box donations should be dropped off on the church's porch. Snethen wants to keep a variety of food in the box, and also wants to make sure no inappropriate items make it in.
He suggests items that have long shelf lives, can be opened without a can opener and are microwaveable or otherwise simple to prepare. For example, soup, microwaveable mac and cheese, canned veggies, pudding cups, bottled sports drinks and Pop Tarts are all good choices.
The church also welcomes donations of reusable and disposable grocery bags to make it easier for visitors to carry their food.
Over time, Snethen added, the church may branch out into toiletries and other necessities.