Drivers traveling east on 22nd Street in Hays may have noticed a small box that has gone up in the parking lot of Hays Christian Church, 22nd and Marshall.

The “Blessing Box,” which went up April 27, is a mini-food pantry available to anyone in the community. It was the brainchild of one of the church’s members, Carolyn Smith.

Smith said she got the idea from perusing similar boxes online promoting community book exchanges and food pantries.

Smith, who is a longtime daycare provider in Hays, said she is very aware that children are going hungry in Hays. She believes sometimes people are ashamed or their pride gets in the way if they have to fill out forms to get “handouts.”

“People who are down on their luck, and maybe they’re embarrassed to ask for help, they can go by and get what they need,” she said. No one is going to be there to see them

The box contains non-perishable food items, which currently include canned vegetables and boxed items such as macaroni and cheese, as well as paper products. The box is checked and restocked every other day. So far, individual donors have kept the box well stocked, she said.

The box, which measures 2 feet wide by 2 feet high by 2 feet deep, is made of wood and has a sloped tin roof. It is mounted on two wooden posts. It has a plexiglass door on the front that allows people to see the contents inside. She said that all of the building materials were donated.

Smith said the box was built by the father of one of her daycare students, and he included features specifically designed to make the box rodent proof.

Anyone is free to add to the items in the box, she said, although the items will change as the weather does. “Obviously, we don’t want things going bad in hot weather or freezing in cold weather.”

Smith expressed her gratitude to the church for providing a convenient, visible and easily accessible location for the box.

“It’s there for the community, and I just want people who need something to go by and be blessed.”