News & Politics

Take What You Need or Leave Something Behind at Capitol Hill’s New “Blessings Box”

The box’s premise is simple: “take what you need, give what you can.”

Photo courtesy Patrick McClintock.

For anyone who needs help putting food on the table—and anyone with provisions to spare—there’s now an answer at the corner of 16th and D St., SE, in the form of a bright pink “blessings box.” 

The box’s premise is simple: “take what you need, give what you can.” You can walk up to the box and take assorted pantry essentials, but you’re also encouraged to leave any items that someone else might. Suggested donations include shelf-stable foods (soups, granola bars, canned vegetables), as well as toiletries such as toothpaste, diapers, and deodorant. A sign also notes what not to bring, including perishables or sharp items.

The box comes to Capitol Hill, just outside Vineyard Baptist Church, from nearby resident Patrick McClintock. “The insecurity regarding the food supplies is real,” says the 74-year-old massage therapist. “It’s not going to feed everybody, it’s not. It’s not designed to be a solution, but it’s a symbol.” 

The “blessings box” is converted from a metal storage container and painted by local artist Karin Edgett. People affiliated with the Palpung Drupgyu Chodzong Buddhist meditation center that McClintock runs out of his home also made contributions to making the box.

This isn’t the first blessings box McClintock has contributed to; He also helped bring another box, built by artist Bert Kubli, to the corner of 14th and E St., SE back in 2019. It’s still there but temporarily closed due to a recent vandalism. McClintock, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 23 years, was inspired by a similar Little Free Pantry effort he read about in the Washington Post two years ago. 

In the days since the newest box was set up, McClintock says the original stock of goods has already been taken out and then replenished. “The neighbors are all enthusiastically relating to it in a positive way,” he says.

Jason Fontelieu
Editorial Fellow