Dylan Soucy wanted to hone his carpentry skills and help people at the same time.
Sixteen-year-old Soucy and her grandfather, Richard Clish, built a small library and “blessings box” pantry at the Soucy residence in Warren. Residents are encouraged to donate non-perishable food and books and take anything they need.
“Dylan is on the spectrum and he wanted to learn how to use tools,” said Dylan’s mother, Kris Soucy. “My dad came over from Bad Ax and we bought some lumber and he taught him how to use a hammer and a saw and everything. They put it all together and Dylan was so happy to be able to help people.
Dylan, who is a voracious reader, built the little library with his grandfather during the summer of 2018 and filled it with books and puzzles. They built the Blessing Box last November – just in time for the holidays. At first, the Soucys did the grocery shopping and filled the blessing box. But since then, a steady stream of donations has helped fill the front yard pantry.
“My son is so tickled and proud that people are donating and using the blessing box,” Kris said. “Every day when we check in, food has been taken for people to use, which is wonderful.”
As a family, the Soucys review all donations to ensure that none of the items donated are open or expired. Then they organize and store the blessing box. Canned goods, rice and beans, pasta, and baby food and infant formula are all popular items. When the temperatures were very cold, people gave bags of potatoes and chickens. The box is also filled with empty grocery bags so people can easily pack the items they take.
“I had a lady knock on the door yesterday that I had never seen before and she said she had a knack for the pantry,” Kris said. “She brought five bags of groceries and a crate of canned goods to the porch. I was so grateful!
The COVID pandemic has caused financial stress for many people. Dylan and his parents just want to help people who might be struggling because of job loss or simply because grocery prices have skyrocketed.
“I work in the Van Dyke School District right here where we live,” Kris said. “I know there is a real need in our community. So many people are out of work and some people just need a little help right now. Even something like a pound of burger the prices are ridiculous.
Since building the Blessing Box, Kris has only seen one person use it. But she sees food being taken daily, so she knows it’s being used and probably enjoyed. She said the turnover of books and puzzles in the small library has also been rapid.
“We got a lot of traffic and we’re so happy,” Kris said. “We have been blessed. We just want people to come, share and take what they need.
Dylan’s Blessings Box and Little Library is located at 11359 Coolidge Avenue in Warren, two blocks south of 10 Mile Road and one block west of Hoover Road.