Located by the entrance to the Janko Centre at 2011 Rock St. in Peru is a small house-shaped box that simply reads, “Take what you need, leave what you can.”
The entitled Blessing Box was created by many employees of Janko Realty and serves as a completely community-stocked small food pantry for those in need.
The idea for the Blessing Box came from Realtor Barb Bryant who saw a news article on the concept as the rest of the Janko team rallied around the idea and made it a possibility.
“We all thought, ‘Wow what a great idea,’ because anything we can do to help the community is great,” said Realtor Christine Schweickert. “The wheels started spinning about how we can make it look like a house.”
The actual construction of the blessing box was a complete team effort as many in the Janko family including Mark Janko, Schweickert, her husband Jerry Schweickert, Tom and Theresa Washkowiak, Andrea Greenwalt and the rest of the organization all had a hand in its creation.
The box was created in the honor of the many members of the Janko Realty family that have passed away.
The box works as a self-service food pantry where anyone may come and take what they need and is completely filled from the generosity of community members.
“Everyone started bringing in food like crazy,” Schweickert said. “We had bags and bags of canned items, boxed items and stuff to put in it. It was just amazing. Agents are still bringing in food to replenish what’s been taken.”
Anyone wanting to help fill the box is welcome to provide non-perishable items in cans and plastic packaging to contribute to the cause.
Janko wanted to create the box to help give back to the community in a way that no one should feel ashamed or embarrassed about. The box is located to the side of the building and is available 24/7 on a complete honor system.
The response the business has received from the box thus far has been nothing but positive as other businesses operating in the area have also pitched in.
“As soon as we put it up, other people in the building got involved as well and started putting things in there which is really nice,” Greenwalt said.
Janko Realty has started to see items appearing in the box that they didn’t provide meaning other community members are beginning to take notice.
Aside from providing the community pantry, Janko Realty has also pledged to donate $100 for each new listing that closes by Sept. 30 to the Illinois Valley Food Pantry.
“That helps them,” Schweickert said. “We wanted to go a little extra to help them as well.”
The box project for Janko Realty has gone off without a hitch as they’ve even noticed people beginning to leave books and even notes alongside the food items for anyone to take as well.
The box has been in operation for a few months now as Janko Realty is hopeful imight help inspire more in the La Salle-Peru area to make sure no one in need goes hungry.
“If somebody does get an idea to do another one that is awesome,” Schweickert said. “That’d be wonderful to keep it going.”