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The blessing box in the alley behind Vine Street Christian Church in Arthur has been, well, a blessing for everyone involved. Discreet in its location — and designed by an Amish craftsman — it has been a popular stop for those in need during the pandemic.

“Every other day, it’s empty,” said Carol Huffman, who along with fellow parishioners Beth Jones, Suzi Berkich and Jeannene Yantis formed a helpful group called “Outside The Wall” (Phyllis Hafer and Jo Watkins have since joined). “Coming out of this COVID stuff, we felt like we needed to reach out to the community with everything going on.”

One suggestion: a pantry. “We were told we might be surprised that, even being in a small town, that there are people who are hungry,” Huffman said.

The women approached Dennis Helmuth, who designed and delivered the box in late December. His eye-catching, durable product resulted in requests for similar boxes in neighboring communities like Charleston, Lovington and Shelbyville.

In Arthur, the Outside the Wall women will continue to shop at Walmart and Aldi to keep the pantry stocked.

“It’s been a wonderful service,” Huffman said. “We have to continue to do this as long as there are people who are hungry and need a little bit of assistance.”

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