Causes | November 2015

Packaged with Care

The Box Project brings relief to the poorest reaches of the Delta

 

Story by Maria Griffo

 

In 2015, The Box Project acts as a matchmaker pairing sponsors with carefully screened individuals or families. To qualify, a potential recipient must wish to achieve self-sufficiency, live in a county designated as “rural” or “agricultural” and must earn less than 150 perfect of the federal poverty guidelines.  Sponsors fill out an application specifying preferences regarding a family such as the number of family members, age of children, gender of the children, etc. The Project reviews the applications and forwards the information of several families. The sponsor chooses the family by reading the application that has been stripped of all personal identifying information. Once a sponsor chooses a family, information is exchanged and the relationship begins.

 

The Box Project is a unique relief organization in that it encourages long-term, meaningful interactions between families. The opportunity for people to build personal relationships with the families they are helping is tremendous.   “Just earlier this year I was able to meet a sponsor family from California at the airport in Jackson,” recalls Donna Goldman, Director of the Box Project. “I got to witness them meeting the family they have been sponsoring for four generations and for over twenty years.

 

While in high school, one daughter of the original recipient family reached out and connected with her sponsor family as her surrogate Mom and Dad. They helped her through high school and raising her two daughters. This year they came to attend the college graduation of the oldest of these two daughters… They have earned the title of “Mom and Dad” and “Nana and Papa” to this family.” 

 

Donna went on to talk about a man whose family benefitted from the Box Project in his formative years in Itta Bena, Mississippi. “His sponsor family sent him two books, the first books he had ever owned. They made a deep impression on him. Now he has two master’s degrees and is pursuing his Ph.D. in Computer Science.” He now teaches on the collegiate level and will be redesigning The Box Project website with a few of his students.

 

Whether sending a few books or acting as a surrogate parent, the range of opportunity to impact the lives of those struggling in rural America is available and vast. If you are interested in partnering with this one-of-a-kind organization, there are three options available. The Family Match program connects a sponsor directly with a family in need. The sponsor gets to share encouragement, advice, and a box of basic items about once a month.  For those interested in a short-term commitment, The Holiday Match Program offers the same experience during the holiday season. The option to donate money to the costs of running the project is also available. Find out more at www.boxproject.org.

 

The Box Project is a program of The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi. (http://cfnm.org/)  

In 1962, New Hampshire homemaker Virginia Naeve boarded a plane headed to a peace conference in Geneva.  On the plane, she sat and conversed with Coretta Scott King. The two women discussed the war abroad we well as social injustice at home in America.  This led to Mrs. King’s sharing of her firsthand experience in the civil rights movement as well as the extreme poverty she encountered daily in the rural South.  

 

She passed on the names of needy families in Mississippi and Georgia to whom Mrs. Naeve began to send letters, clothing, household items, and food. She shared her experiences with friends and before long they bringing her items and helping to stuff boxes for families. This was the beginning of what is now known as The Box Project. 

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