Building on the blessing: Volunteer builds TLC’s new blessing box
Christine Kyles grew up in a family of creators. Her mom made her children’s clothes, and her father had a shop in the garage where he worked with wood and metal. Her brother is a machinist.
“That’s the environment I grew up in. We did things for ourselves,” Kyles said. “I’m a hobby person.”
As she grew up, Kyles learned how to sew, embroider, and cross-stitch. When she decided to put new tile in her bathroom, she added that skill to her repertoire.
“I thought I’d give it a try, and it came out well,” she said. “Then I had more ideas of things I could do in my house with tile.”
When her sister wanted a new table, Kyles followed in her father’s footsteps and taught herself woodworking.
“He had gotten to where he wasn’t able to do as many projects. He decided I would get the woodworking tools and my brother would get the metalworking stuff,” she said. “He gave me his big commercial-grade table saw. I love that table saw.”
Kyles began volunteering at Trinity Living Center (TLC) in 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Activities Director Andrea Moore reached out to her and asked if she could lead a woodworking activity for male participants.
After the first day, Kyles said she was hooked.
“It was so much fun. The men were so nice, and they laughed at my jokes,” she said. “We just had a good time.”
Since that day, Kyles has attended most of TLC’s events and supported the adult day service program in any way she can. When TLC wanted to pursue a new blessing box ministry, Moore knew just the person for the job.
Blessing boxes are honor system food pantries where people in need can find non-perishable food items and toiletries. Like little free libraries, they are stocked by community groups and individuals. The idea is that a person takes something when they need it, but when they have a little extra, they are encouraged to put items in the box.
The project was supported, in part, through an intergenerational grant from the Lutheran Services for the Elderly Endowment at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Foundation. Moore used the grant money to purchase the wood, and Kyles got to work building the box.
On a sunny day in March, TLC participants gathered outside with Kyles as Trinity Oaks Chaplain Pastor Jill King prayed over and dedicated the new blessing box.
“It was really nice,” Kyles said about the dedication. “And people stopped by right off the bat that day to look at it.”
TLC is partnering with local community organizations to fill the box. Church groups, Girl Scout troops, and individuals have stepped up to make sure there are plenty of blessings inside.
“I feel like I can be a lot of use to Trinity Living Center,” Kyles said. “I love the people. They really warm my heart, especially when we do an activity or something like the blessing box and they enjoy it. It makes me feel good.”