CLOSE
Original image
Maggie Ballard (Used With Permission)

Inside Wichita's 'Blessing Box,' a Micro Food Pantry

Original image
Maggie Ballard (Used With Permission)

In Wichita, Kansas, Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton have opened a tiny food pantry in their front yard. Modeled after the little free library concept, Maggie and Paxton call their little free pantry a "blessing box." It's a red wooden box with a glass door. They keep it stocked with food and sanitary supplies, and a sign encourages visitors to take whatever they need and contribute what they can. All transactions are anonymous.

Here's a short video tour of the box:

And here's Paxton with the box:

Maggie told NPR, "My son is 6 years old, so it gives him a little chore to kind of watch it and see what comes and goes and who comes and goes, and maybe learn a little lesson from it."

Maggie told mental_floss this week that community members have left cards, donations of supplies, and even cash (including a $20 bill between two cans) in response to the project. Here are some photos of the box and early donations:

And here's a sampling of the cards:

Maggie and Paxton's project is an extension of a small movement going on nationwide. From NPR's report earlier this week:

Similar "yard-based" food pantries have gone up across the country, in states like Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Minnesota. Much of it seems to trace back to Jessica McClard, who created what she calls the "little free pantry" in northwest Arkansas.

"The products that are stocked are put directly inside the pantry and turnover is in about 30 to 45 minutes," McClard says. "The frequency of the turnover and the fact that other sites in town are also turning over that frequently, it suggests to me that the need is tremendous."

McClard maintains a Little Free Pantry website with guidance on how to make your own blessing box.

Finally, here are Maggie and Paxton:

(All photos courtesy of Maggie Ballard, used with permission.)

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
Los Angeles's Top Architects Design Pet Shelters to Benefit Homeless Cats
Original image
iStock

Los Angeles design firms Abramson Teiger Architects, d3architecture, and KnowHow Shop are known for producing some of the city's most distinct examples of architecture. But for this year’s “Giving Shelter” event in Culver City, local architects were tasked with designing structures on a much smaller scale than what they’re used to. Each piece auctioned off at the fundraiser was built with feline inhabitants in mind, and the proceeds from the night went to benefit homeless cats in the area.

L.A. is home to one of the largest stray cat populations in the country, with between 1 and 3 million cats living on the streets. Each year, architects involved with the group Architects for Animals design innovative shelters to raise money for FixNation, a nonprofit organization that spays and neuters the city's homeless cats. This year, the cat homes that were showcased included bird houses, AC vents, and a giant ball of yarn.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Shelter for a cat.

Anyone who’s familiar with Architects for Animals shouldn’t be surprised by the creativity of this year’s entries. Last year’s Giving Shelter event included a Brutalist interpretation of a classic tête-à-tête seat.

All images courtesy of MeghanBobPhotography / Architects for Animals

Original image
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
What Happens to the Losing Team's Pre-Printed Championship Shirts?
Original image
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Following a big win in the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, or any other major sporting event, fans want to get their hands on championship merchandise as quickly as possible. To meet this demand and cash in on the wallet-loosening "We’re #1" euphoria, manufacturers and retailers produce and stock two sets of T-shirts, hats and other merchandise that declare each team the champ.

Apparel for the winning team quickly fills clothing racks and gets tossed to players on the field. But what happens to the losing team's clothing?

Depending on the outcome of Game 7 Wednesday evening, boxes of shirts erroneously emblazoned with either the Houston Astros's or Los Angeles Dodgers's logos and "World Series Champions" proclamations are destined for charity. "We donate the product," Matt Bourne, vice president of business public relations for Major League Baseball, tells Mental Floss.

Donating to the disadvantaged is par for the course for most of the major sports leagues, although MLB briefly changed their policy up in 2016 and ordered the losing team's apparel destroyed after concerns it might find its way into the secondary market.

Bourne didn't elaborate on why MLB returned to its previous protocol, but it may have something to do with the sheer volume of usable clothing generated by having to anticipate two possible outcomes. Based on strong sales after the Chicago Bears’s 2007 NFC Championship win, for example, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory well before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17. 

For almost two decades, an international humanitarian aid group called World Vision collected the unwanted items for MLB and NFL runners-up at its distribution center in Pittsburgh, then shipped them overseas to people living in disaster areas and impoverished nations. After losing Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, Arizona Cardinals gear was sent to children and families in El Salvador. In 2010, after the New Orleans Saints defeated Indianapolis, the Colts gear printed up for Super Bowl XLIV was sent to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

In 2011, after Pittsburgh lost to the Green Bay Packers, the Steelers Super Bowl apparel went to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania.

Beginning in 2015, after 19 years with World Vision, the NFL started working with Good360. After New England defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX, Seahawks gear was distributed in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

In 2016, Good360 chief marketing officer Shari Rudolph told Mental Floss that details about the products available for donation will be sent to Good360 about a week after the Super Bowl ends. They'll notify their nonprofit partners and determine who needs what. Beginning this year, Good360 will also handle the discarded MLB clothing.

"Once they request the product, it is shipped to a domestic location and stored within their facilities until they have enough product (through Good360 and other sources) to fill a container," Rudolph said. "Then it is shipped overseas and distributed to people in need."

Fans of the World Series team that comes up short can take heart: At least the spoils of losing will go to a worthy cause.

An earlier version of this story appeared in 2009. Additional reporting by Jake Rossen.

All images courtesy of World Vision, unless otherwise noted.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios