HAMILTON, Ohio — A retired Ohio plumber has installed a "Blessing Box" on a property he owns, to provide food to people who need it.
The boxes built by William Brown, who has worked for many years in Hamilton, are similar to those used as “little libraries” for taking and leaving books, but this one is filled with items such as Tuna Helper, a can of tuna, a box of cereal, several kinds of soup, salted crackers, boxes of pasta, peanut butter, Vienna sausage, flour, pinto beans, toilet paper, diced potatoes and a King James Version of the Bible.
Brown, 66, who was a plumber in Hamilton with Brown & Sons, spends about six days a week in Camden, where he has a similar box in his front yard. He also spends a day each week in Hamilton.
"I thought, 'Well, heck, I've got property on Hanover Street, and I can put one there," Brown told the Journal-News of Butler County.
“I’d seen where a fella up in New Jersey or something like that had one of the boxes, and he’d seen what I’d seen in Hamilton. There’s a half-dozen boxes where people put books in, where people come and get books,” Brown said.
“He improvised on that and made it canned goods and something to help people to get through the day, or whatever. And I thought, 'Well, that is a great idea.'"
Brown hopes it will be used by “just anybody who’s hungry,” he said. “It’s not just for homeless people. There’s people that don’t make enough money during the week to actually feed their families at night all the time. You figure anything’s helpful.
“There’s other people that help come stock it. My son (William Brown III), he lives in Hamilton, and he helps keep it stocked. It helps that I can give him a case of food, and he’s a plumber by trade, so he’s all around and he stops by.”
Brown's son, who learned the trade from him, has his own business, William Brown Plumbing.
After he saw an article about the other Blessing Box, “It weighed on me for about a week or so, and I thought, ‘I can put this together. I can do this,’” William Brown said. “Because I know the need’s out there. And it about stays empty.”
He installed the box, which he built, about two months ago. His girlfriend, Linda Hughes, works as a bartender at Grub Pub in Hamilton and also helps stock.
"The one up in Camden, there's a lot of people who help up on that one, and I very seldom have to put anything in there," Brown told the Journal-News. "People in the neighborhood, they help keep it stocked. I think it does help that right next door to us there's a schoolhouse that they converted into a residence for older people. And they sure seem cheerful about giving. And I've got a pretty good idea that's where a big part of it comes from."
Brown buys canned goods, snacks and other items he finds good bargains on whenever he visits Save A Lot, ALDI or Dollar Tree, and has learned to avoid glass after a jar of spaghetti sauce broke.
“Since I don’t really go to church, I believe in tithing, and this is my way of giving the 10 percent,” he said. “So, it works out right.”
After he left Wednesday, a man and woman came by, the man on a motorized bicycle, and the woman walking. Both removed some items.
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