When Intermediate Program faculty members Katie Perez-Phillips ’07 and Kiki Sweigart began exploring creative ways to support their students in taking community action, they sought a long-term initiative that would emphasize leadership, compassion, and collaboration. Thanks to some out-of-the-box thinking, they found the perfect opportunity for service right in Ashley Hall’s own backyard.

“We wanted an ongoing weekly or monthly idea that each IP advisory could take on in a collaborative effort,” said Sweigart. “In local neighborhoods we saw the Blessing Boxes, which are stocked with non-perishable food items, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and anything else that might be considered a blessing to people who find themselves in need. I contacted the Lowcountry Blessing Box Project, which pointed us in the right direction for building plans and locations. They started in 2017 and now have nearly 200 Blessing Boxes throughout the Lowcountry.”

Wanting to impact the immediate community, IP students partnered with the restaurant FUEL to install a purple Blessing Box (handcrafted by Ashley Hall staff member John Bartolotti) on its property, which is near one of the School’s satellite parking lots. Already, IP students have worked within their advisories to keep the box filled, and advisors are making plans to monitor the box throughout the summer. The rest of Ashley Hall’s campus is also taking notice, with pre-kindergarten students eager to visit with supplies next week. Students and faculty alike are embracing this unique opportunity to make a difference in their community.

Already a dedicated supporter of the Blessing Box Project, Early Education Center faculty member Ximena Yanez immediately took a trip with students Wally Coverdale ’35 and Yoshi Coverdale ’36 to stock the box. “We were very excited to learn of this new addition to the mission,” said Yanez. “They love that this box is purple, and Yoshi said ‘bye bye snacks’ and closed the door when we’d finished emptying the bag. Then as we were walking back to the car, Wally said ‘we share because we care.’”