Over the past four months, the Theta Mu chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has worked on a unique way to give back to the Oklahoma State University community. Their way of doing this was by creating OSU’s very first Blessings Box.
The Delta Sigma Theta’s (DST) Blessings Box is a red wooden box filled with non-perishable food items and toiletries located outside of the Family Resource Center (FRC). Items from the box are free for all students and are restocked weekly by members of DST.
DST President, Dezavia Taylor, believed that creating a Blessings Box would help the OSU community because food insecurity is one of the leading factors of stress for college students.
According to New York City Food Policy.org, this year an estimated 54 million Americans, including 18 million American children, are now food insecure. The New York Food Policy.org also found that food insecurity was linked to poorer mental health and specific psychosocial stressors across global regions, independent of an individual’s socioeconomic status.
While OSU offers meal plans to students, DST wanted to create something for the community to help in times when meal plans run out.
“When you live on campus, your meal plan eventually runs out and you’re kind of stuck hoping that someone can help out,” Taylor said. “Through our Blessings Box, we just wanted to make an easy way for families and students in our community to have access to items they may need.”
When introduced to the idea of the Blessings Box, Assistant Director of the Family Resource Center and Graduate Student Housing, Elizabeth Carver-Cyr, was thrilled to have it located outside of the FRC.
“I was very humbled that they would think of this community as we have lots of food insecurity both on OSU’s campus and in the Stillwater community,” Carver-Cyr said.
According to OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma has significantly higher food insecurity than the national average and more than 656,000 Oklahomans are struggling with food insecurity every day. As of today, Oklahoma ranks 10th in the nation for food insecurity.
Carver-Cyr explained how before the grand reveal of the Blessings Box to the public, she sent an email to 800 residents informing them. Within two-three hours after the reveal, all the items from the box were gone, making the Blessings Box a huge success!
“I think that the Blessings Box is a positive impact; there is a lot of need here and it’s heartwarming that Delta Sigma Theta thought of this community to help,” Carver-Cyr said. “The Blessings Box along with the FRC’s Red Pantry and Our Daily Bread are all blessings to the community in many different ways.”
Back in February, Oklahoma experienced harsh winter weather. According to The Weather Channel.com, in February, Oklahoma experienced the coldest winter outbreak in over 30 years, breaking multiple records. The coldest temperature being negative 14 degrees. Due to the extreme weather, many OSU and Stillwater residents experienced busted pipes and damaged housing. This ultimately left many people without secure housing and food options for days.
Oklahoma State University Mechanical Engineering Senior, Kemi Rufai, explains how the Blessings Box has helped her after the harsh Oklahoma weather.
“During the winter storm in Stillwater my apartment flooded, and I was misplaced for a couple of weeks,” Rufai said. “I used the non-perishables from the box to help me get back on my feet and transition into my apartment.”
“Receiving items from the Blessings Box made me feel seen and it made me feel good that I could go and get help on campus without being a burden on someone else,” Rufai said.
Taylor explains how giving back to the community is the sole purpose of her sorority’s Blessings Box project along with inspiring others to help within the community.
“The purpose of the Blessings Box is to give people quick access to food and toiletries and just be a blessing to those in our community,” Taylor said. “We are hoping that the Blessings Box will inspire people to help others in the community as well.”
When asked about the future of the Blessings Box, Taylor says that they hope to have the box up forever.
“We want this to be the impact that we leave here at OSU even after we are gone,” Taylor said. “We hope that whoever sees the box will be encouraged to be a blessing for someone else.”