PALM HARBOR, Fla. — A Palm Harbor teen is making sure no one in her community goes hungry when they go to bed at night.
- Isabella Pawloski, 17, created what she calls "Blessing Boxes"
- Those who wish to help can drop off nonperishable food in the box
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For 17-year-old Isabella Pawloski, running has been her biggest passion in life.
“I love running because it’s kind of my getaway, my freedom,” said Isabella.
But recently, the cross country star found herself following a new track after learning about the struggles her mother faced as a single mom at just 23 years old.
“Living paycheck to paycheck at times, things come up," said Melissa Pawloski, Isabella's mom. "And there was one time where the paycheck just wasn’t cutting it and I went to the local food pantry and I made just a little too much above that limit and so they said they couldn’t help."
The story struck a nerve with Isabella, and she said "enough is enough."
“I just didn’t think that this was very right," she said. "So I did some research and found out that one in four of Pinellas County’s children is food insecure, and that just spurred me even more to start funding this."
Using old newspaper boxes donated by the Tampa Bay Times, she repainted and re-purposed them, turning them into what she now calls "Blessing Boxes."
The concept is really quite simple — if you would like to donate, you can drop off non-perishable food items into the box.
But if you’re in a situation where you might need a little bit of extra help, you can take when you need, no questions asked.
“If someone needs food, they need food. They’re not going to use it for their benefit," Isabella explained. "So I’m trying to make this a judge-free, come whenever you need it, and just a supportive area."
The first Blessing Box is located at the Lutheran Church of Resurrection in Palm Harbor, and the idea behind it is already making an impression.
“I’m extremely happy with the support it’s gotten," Isabella told us. "I didn’t expect it to be this popular this soon."
That support just proves that if you take your ideas and run with them, you can make a difference.
“The fact that the community came together and already stocked the boxes, they’ve only been up for a few days. I’m just proud that she saw it through,” said Melissa.
Isabella hopes to add Blessing Boxes all across the Tampa Bay Area. If you would like to donate, you can visit the box in Palm Harbor.
If you would like help starting your own box, email Isabella at Isabella.firstname.lastname@example.org.