Melissa Behrens founded the Blessings Box of Champlin, Minnesota in November 2018. It began as a Little Free Pantry in her front yard but quickly blossomed into so much more.
“I planned to put a post in the ground and fill the pantry with food, hygiene items, and even snacks for students who ride the bus,” said Melissa. “I shared the idea on our local Champlin community Facebook page, and within one hour, I had our first request from a family in need.”
Melissa immediately created the Blessings Box of Champlin Facebook page and invited friends, family, neighbors, and community members to drop off donations for the family. “Within a few days, we had several carloads worth of groceries, household supplies, and a full Thanksgiving dinner for the family,” said Melissa. “We had such a positive response, we continued to find families in need and bless them the exact way.”
When Champlin families are in crisis, Melissa and her Facebook community are there. She rallies the community around her to serve the immediate needs of women escaping domestic violence situations, families burdened with medical bills and those that are homeless by providing food, household supplies, clothing, and cash donations to get them back on their feet. The Blessings Box has collected and distributed more than $100,000 worth of items and funds to families.
For her dedication to her community and grassroots volunteerism, Melissa was one of ten influential leaders to receive a Nation of Neighbors℠ empowerment award and grant. With this grant, Melissa will be applying for nonprofit status and using a small amount for marketing and promotional materials to expand the Blessings Box of Champlin’s reach into other communities.
“We ensure children are warm at recess, families have warm meals, and community members have blankets to stay warm at night,” said Melissa. “We believe the little things matter just as much as the big things.”