Blessing Boxes

Nettleton educators Lori Clements and Emilee Taylor Roundtree hold up bags full of items that are being donated to Blessing Boxes, which will be distributed to about 500 community members on Dec. 12.

JONESBORO — Bags of donated blessings are flooding the classrooms of one local school district, as students are tackling a community service project to help those struggling during the holidays.

Kennedy Baker an 11th-grade student who is involved in both East Lab and Nettleton Student Council, said people are continuing to bring in donated items.

Both students and staff have decided to participate in an event organized by Jonesboro Community Response. Nate Miller, who is the administrator of the organization’s Facebook page, put together the event, called Blessing Boxes, with the goal to collect enough items to distribute 500 blessing boxes to the community on Dec. 12.

Baker said Nettleton students have a goal of collecting 100 items for the cause.

“So far we have already filled up about three boxes,” Baker said.

Sandra Taylor, Nettleton High School East Lab facilitator, said it was the district’s high school nurse who got both students and staff involved in the effort to bring blessings to the community during a particularly tough time.

“They are looking for personal items such as toys and clothing for infants and teenagers,” she said.

A packing event will be held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, according to the Jonesboro Community Response Facebook page.

Other organizations in addition to the Nettleton School District have partnered to help with the boxes including In His Wings Ministry and John 3:16 Ministries.

Jennifer Tarwater, who is the director of In His Wings Ministry, said teaching residents to give back to the community is a valuable lesson to those women who are in recovery at the facility.

“Going out and doing this teaches (residents) to serve others before themselves,” she said. “They get a chance to see maybe their lives aren’t that bad and get to be a part of helping kids in the area who may not be able to have a Christmas if it wasn’t for these boxes.”

Nate Miller, vice president of clinical operations for ClearSky Health, said the Blessing Box Outreach is to give the community a much-needed boost as all are facing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, “we did an Easter Basket Drive and gave out around 442 Easter baskets,” Miller said.

Miller decided to do the same thing for Christmas and call it Blessing Boxes.

“We are already getting requests for people wanting boxes and are also accepting donations,” he said.

Those interesting in volunteering to assemble Blessing Boxes at Embassy Suites can contact Miller at nate@jones bororesponse.com. Those in need of a Blessing Box can register for one at blessing box@jonesbororesponse.com.

Donations can be dropped off at the following locations: AT&T Store by Apex 1841 East Highland (in front of Walmart); Ecolab on the service road across from Joe Mack Campbell Park; Creative Kids Therapy at 300 Southwest Square from 1 to 5 p.m.; CME Administration at 2604 S Madison; CME Clinic at 151 Southwest Drive; and Embassy Suites at 223 Red Wolf Blvd.

So far, Miller said the Jonesboro Community Response Facebook page, which he designed to begin a help network within the community, has been a success.

Although it was created as a help network for those impacted by COVID-19, the page exploded after the tornado.

“We have really amazing people in our community and there is a lot going on behind the scenes people don’t see on the page,” Miller said.