When Intermediate Program faculty members Katie Perez-Phillips ’07 and Kiki Sweigart began exploring creative ways to support their students in taking community action back in 2021, 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. To keep the box filled, each IP each advisory group is assigned 3-4 weeks throughout the school year when they will take a short Friday field trip to FUEL. “We ask each student in advisory to try and bring in at least 3 items by Friday during their assigned week,” says Sweigart. “Then they deliver them on Friday during their advisory time.”

The rest of Ashley Hall’s campus also embrace this unique opportunity to make a difference in their community throughout the year. “The Lower School and Nautilus programs have all helped us keep the box stocked with each group taking a week that is assigned to them,” says Sweigart. “We also encourage all faculty to bring in items and any families are always able to drop off items—or they can just stop by the Blessing Box and fill it themselves! Last summer a group of Lower School families set up a schedule for a weekly ‘fill’ which was so helpful when we are not in school.”