ARVADA, Colo. — “Little Free Libraries” have gained popularity as a way for communities to exchange books for free.
The small mailbox-like containers are typically posted near sidewalks for anyone who passes by.
The Rising Church in Arvada is using the same concept to feed the homeless. They call it a Blessing Box.
“You know what, the Blessing Box is kind of a fun thing,” Charlyn Lalander said.
Members of the community fill the box at will with snacks, meals and personal hygiene items such as soap, tampons and lip balm. It’s free for anyone that needs it.
“If you put a list in there of things you need, they’ll try to make sure that we have those things,” Lalander said.
She sleeps in her car because she said her landlord refused to renew her lease at an affordable rate. She said the Blessing Box has changed her life.
“So that we don’t feel bad about ourselves, get down on ourselves, because that’s real easy to do,” Lalander said.
The Blessing Box was installed on Sept. 15. That is also when The Rising began its day shelter program.
The day shelter typically hosts about 35 people a day, but when it’s cold, that number has reached 70.
Since the programs began, it has given out 1,540 meals per month, 176 showers per month and have helped eight people find jobs.
“The church itself, it’s a whole entity to help a lot of homeless people,” Lalander said.
Lalander is also part of a team of homeless volunteers who cook dinner on Wednesdays for anyone who is hungry.
“I love to cook. I’ve been cooking for a long time. My grandma taught me. So being homeless I get to come in the kitchen and cook and it keeps me happy in a bad situation,” she said.
Another one of the volunteers, Terrance Turner, is a former assistant executive chef at the old Sahara in Las Vegas. He has been on the streets for about two years.
“I’m trying to find a place that’s more affordable and it’s pretty hard,” Turner said.