A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why the ‘blessing box’ is gone

Written March 12th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Christine Withers Rayburn talks about the demise of her “blessing box” Monday. (Watch the video below.)

It began as a private project to help people in need. But it became a nuisance and even a threat to the woman who started it. So now her “blessing box” is gone.

Christine Withers Rayburn set up the box about two years ago outside her home on Salem Avenue. First it was just a box. Then she upgraded it to a plastic storage cabinet and filled it with things that might be helpful to the down and out: Food, clothing, items for personal hygiene and grooming, even toys — all kinds of stuff, free for the taking.

A reader noticed the box was gone and asked me about it. On Monday afternoon, the bike took me past the place and I chatted with a neighbor just as Christine drove up. Yes, she said she and her husband decided to take the box down because of the problems it was causing. She kept it empty for a couple of weeks and then, last week, got rid of the box itself.

People would come on to her place very late or in the middle of the night. Things would disappear from her and the neighbor’s property. There would be drinking. One time she was threatened with a knife. She thought the guy was on drugs. I asked her who these troublemakers were. They were among the very people she was trying to help. Not all of them, of course, but enough to be a pain.

So the box in front of her place is gone. But she’s still helping. She is volunteering for Fish, which provides emergency aid to people in need, and the Helping Hands homeless shelter. She has made up “blessing bags” filled with food like top ramen and other things, and she hands them to people she sees around town.

I last talked to her some time ago. Since then she has found work as an in-home caregiver, and her husband, a millwright, works as well.

When I talked to her Monday, I made a video which, sad to say, YouTube has prevented from loading. It’s on my Facebook page, though.

Christine is not dismayed. She is as cheerful as ever. But she has this advice: If you are thinking of having a blessing box like hers, go ahead but don’t set it up outside your home. (hh)



7 responses to “Why the ‘blessing box’ is gone”

  1. centrist says:

    A blessing on them

    • Mitalene says:

      This is really sad. Thank you & God bless you Christine for your devotion & love for this project! It’s sad there is no more “On your honor” in situations like this. I will definitely be donating in yours and my parents names (Mama passed just last week) Thank you Hasso for your investigative and tireless reporting!

  2. Debbie Swenson says:

    Thank you Hasso for sharing this story and thank you Christine for all you do for others.

  3. Donna Ott says:

    Yes, thank you Hasso for sharing this story. I have found your FB posts to be a good way to learn more about what’s happening in Albany. Your bike certainly gets you around!

  4. Cheryl P says:

    One of the things that struck me when I saw the discussion, was giving homeless people Cup-a-Soups and Ramen Noodles. I get that they are very cheap and are lightweight.
    Never mind that it has no nutritional value and is extremely high in sodium, how are they supposed to prepare these item? Where are they going to get hot water for the Cups or a pan and cooking source for the Noodles?

    • Dana Cox says:

      Many of our homeless live in camps where yes they do cook over a heat source.

    • George Pugh says:

      Thank you Cheryl P. for bringing the inadequacy of these foods to our attention. What food items do you give that provide better nutrition yet are affordable as small donations ?


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