Thunder Bay·Audio

Blessing Boxes to be installed in Fort Frances, Sioux Lookout and Kenora

A community food pantry program in Thunder Bay, Ont., is expanding in northwestern Ontario thanks to the power of social media.

The program was started by Giant Hearts in Thunder Bay in September 2018

There are currently four blessing boxes in Thunder Bay and they are placed at the edge of a homeowner's lawn. (The Green Dream Team / Facebook)

A community food pantry program in Thunder Bay, Ont., is expanding in northwestern Ontario thanks to the power of social media.

Known as the Blessing Box, there are already four set up around various neighbourhoods in Thunder Bay, with more on the way in Fort Frances, Kenora and even Sioux Lookout.

Lyndsay Alessandro is one of the administrators of the volunteer group that started the initiative back in the fall of 2018. She said residents in other communities in northwestern Ontario reached out to the group through Facebook when they heard about the program picking up in the Lakehead.

Blessing Boxes have been popping up on lawns in Thunder Bay. They're filled with non-perishable food, hygiene products and baby necessities. Anyone who needs any of those them items free to help themselves. A volunteer group called the Giant Hearts started the project, which is now expanding across northwestern Ontario. Lyndsay Alessandro is with Giant Hearts and spoke to the CBC's Christina Jung about the program. 4:44

"The word kind of reached out on Facebook ... and there were people who were sort of saying, 'Oh, this is such a great idea, I would love to have this even in our backyard or in our community,'" Alessandro of Giant Hearts told CBC News."

She said residents who live in the communities volunteered to have a blessing box posted on their property.

"It's a little bit mind-blowing like the fact that it's reaching to other communities, it's really rewarding and we're all super excited and it's an honour to be a part of something so positive coming out of Thunder Bay right now," she said.

The organization wants to emphasize they are not connected to any religious groups, and the non-perishable items are free for anyone who needs them.

"Just the fact that [the people] are reaching out and saying what a wonderful idea it is and how good it would be for their community, speaks a lot to the need that is there," Alessandro added.

She said some of the members of Giant Hearts will take a trip to the new host communities to teach the volunteers in that community how to run the program and help set up various hubs where people can donate items for the box.

The Thunder Bay blessing boxes are located on North Brodie Street, McLaughlin Street, Bethune Street, and Empress Avenue, with the fifth one being installed on Friday, July 5 on Amelia Street in Westfort.