"I felt like I had to do something”: Pueblo West man finds ways to give back amid pandemic
A venture to help the local community has left a Pueblo West man at a loss for words.
George Davis and his wife both retired and moved to the Pueblo West area three years ago. No stranger to volunteer work, when Davis arrived in Pueblo he started helping with Meals on Wheels, and spent time working at the Soup Kitchen last winter.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, his desire to help the community was halted.
“Me and the wife, we’re retired and wanted to be careful until we get on the other side of this thing,” Davis said. “But you watch the news every day, and they are showing people struggling and hurting — it broke my heart. I felt guilty because I couldn’t do volunteer work.
"I felt like I had to do something.”
While perusing the internet, Davis stumbled upon the Blessing Box Project.
The project aims to find solutions to hunger and malnutrition, lack of basic human necessities — clothing, toiletries, books, toys, and school supplies in communities worldwide.
Many blessing boxes have designated purposes. Some are strictly for books, clothing and toiletries, and non-perishable food.
“I decided that was the best way to do it,” Davis said. “It’s safe for everybody and it feeds the people.”
Davis said it took him a few weeks to decide to build his blessing box because he was concerned that it may not be successful.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, Davis placed his blessing box in his front yard and then posted about it on the Facebook page "I live in Pueblo West."
“I think I posted it on the page around 11 in the morning, letting everyone know what it is and what it does,” Davis said. “Within a few hours it was full of donations.”
The project has been so successful that Davis has a surplus of donations that are stored in his garage and even spilling over into his home.
“It was overwhelming — it’s a wonderful feeling to see something happen,” Davis said. “Seeing everyone in the community come together.”
After building his own, Davis began looking for other locations of blessing boxes in the community.
“All of them but three only do book donations,” Davis said. “There are three that donate food — the biggest one is in downtown Pueblo on City Center Drive and Grand. A lot of people don’t know it’s there, and it was empty. That bothered me.”
Again, Davis took to Facebook to address the issue.
“I posted and said, ‘Look this needs to be filled,’” Davis added. “I posted pictures and wrote a statement calling out the Mayor and everyone in Pueblo — this is a disaster. This box is strategically placed, mainly for the homeless. The next day, it was full.”
Davis has been taking the surplus of donations from his home and contributing them to the blessing box in downtown Pueblo. With an influx of inquiries about how others can have their own boxes, Davis has begun building others.
“Originally I wasn’t going to build any more,” Davis said. “This one I built is one of the biggest ones, and it took a lot of energy out of me. But so many people have been reaching out asking and I know the west, east and south side are in desperate need of them.”
Davis is building the boxes to donate to those who want them.
The first is going to a couple in Pueblo West who work for the Pueblo West Fire Department. Then he plans to work down the list.
“When I put it out there, I told them the requirements are, you have to own your home and maintain it,” Davis said. “I’ll put it together and paint the inside, but you paint the outside and make it unique to your liking.”
Davis isn’t taking payment for building the boxes for those who want to place them in their yards because he said it’s just something that needs to be done.
“Through Meals on Wheels I found so many people hurting out there,” Davis added. “A lot of people, you don’t know are hurting but they are, especially now with the pandemic.”
The timing of Davis’ blessing box and the holidays is a mere coincidence, as he plans to continue with this project.
“It will be there 24/7, 365 days a year,” Davis said. “It’s not locked, and you can take whatever is in the box, no questions asked. Some people who donate ask if people will hoard the contents of the box, but I’ve found quite the opposite. People are afraid to take too much, I’ll see people take one or two cans and leaving.
"Sometimes I’ll come out and say, ‘Take more! I know you’re hungrier than that!’ You almost have to twist their arm to get them to take food.”
Right now, there are four locations where blessing boxes can be found, but Davis’ hope is that within the next six months there will be at least 20 throughout Pueblo and Pueblo West.
“I ask that the people consider putting up a blessing box in their own yard,” Davis said. “Get together with your neighbors to supply it and help people who need it. Just build it, put it up and watch what will happen. You have all kinds of scenarios out there where people need food.
"Who else is going to do it? How long have we been suffering with this pandemic? How many people are worse off? I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel until somebody addresses it — so ‘We the people.’ We the people can address this, put Pueblo on the map for this.”
Chieftain reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @smith_alexis27.