It was 16 Degrees Fahrenheit, but even freezing temperatures did not stop the community from gathering and celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. King. Each year, the MLK Community Committee, of which NWBRV is a member, plans events that honor the life and teachings of Dr. King. The day promotes community reflection on our nation’s past, acknowledgement of our present, and hope for the future.
On this day, some 50 years after the death of Dr. King, the message of diversity and acceptance is still clear. Seeing such a diverse gathering sheds light on how much our community and country has embraced the teachings of Dr. King.
During the memorial service, the MLK Committee invited elected officials to speak. Everyone from the Mayor of Woonsocket Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and Congressman David Cicilline to Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee and Woonsocket’s state reps and city council members were present and spoke of their hopes for the Woonsocket community.
“We do this every year and to see the community come together to celebrate Dr. King’s message is truly a blessing” said Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baildelli-Hunt. “We ask this question every year, what are you doing for others and the community?” she added.
The memorial service concluded with the unveiling of a new, innovative community action project known as the “Blessing Box.” Blessing Boxes are re-purposed old newspaper boxes painted and now used to hold ready-to-eat foods. The boxes have been adopted by local Woonsocket businesses and nonprofits, making food available to those in need 24/7.
There are 11 boxes in total. Nine of the 11 boxes have already been adopted by a nonprofit organization, church or a business committed to keeping them stocked throughout the year. Current boxes are located at the following places:
- 256 Privilege Street
- Calvary Worship Center, 120 Prospect Street
- CCA Visitation Center, 31 Orchard Street
- Community Care Alliance, 245 Main Street
- Lot-O-Laundry, 150 North Main Street
- NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, 141 Olo Street
- RiverzEdge Arts, 196 2nd Avenue
- St. James Baptist Church, 340 South Main Street
- The MLK Memorial Sculpture Garden, Intersection of Mason and South Main Streets.
Only one month into the project we are seeing the impact these small boxes have had on the community. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Woonsocket. When starting the project, many were concerned that the boxes would be misused or taken advantage of. To the best of our knowledge, that has not occurred and recipients have expressed their profound gratitude with the initiative!
The only way to keep this project alive throughout the year is for individuals to contribute to the cause. So think about the Blessing Boxes next time you run through the grocery store. All ready-to-eat items, such as granola bars, nuts, fruit cups, beef jerky, etc. as well as small toiletries are greatly appreciated. Then you can drop off your items at any time to one of the locations listed above. It’s that simple. In the time it takes you to do your grocery shopping and drive home, you can also support someone in need.
About the Author
Tino Lima was born and raised in RI and currently resides in Coventry. He currently serves as a marketing intern with NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and is studying Business Management at New England Technical Institute of Technology. He also operates an online business specializing in the sale of nostalgic video games and toys.