Jonesburg family builds Blessing Barn for people in need

SERVICE PROJECT -- The Hellebusch family stands next to the Blessing Barn that they custom-made and contains non-perishable items and supplies for those in need. It is located in front of the Jonesburg City Hall. Pictured, from left, are Brooke, Nick and Maggie Hellebusch. Submitted photo.
Derrick Forsythe
Staff Writer

With extra time on her hands and a few hours still necessary toward her Christian service goal, Jonesburg resident Brooke Hellebusch turned to her father, Nick, for his creative input.

Having had her senior year cut short by COVID-19, the St. Francis Borgia student was presented with a unique opportunity to focus her project on timely needs. Through the collaborate minds of a dad and daughter and the handiwork of the entire family, the Blessing Barn came to life.

It wasn’t an original idea — rather one duplicated from community efforts in Washington, Mo.

“I grew up in Washington and there are about half a dozen around town that have really helped out a lot of people down there,” said Nick. “Knowing how things are going in our world, I thought our little community could use something like this.”

The custom-made food pantry perhaps could not have come at a better time. Perched in front of the Jonesburg City Hall, the Blessing Barn is a small wooden structure that contains non-perishable items and supplies for those in need.

“It’s in a really good spot where every time I drive by it, I get that same feeling of satisfaction,” said Brooke. “It’s such a good feeling to know that it could help even one person. I think that’s what makes it so special.”

The Blessing Barn operates exclusively on the honor system. When opened, the inside door reads “Take what you need. Leave what you can. Above all, be blessed.”

“It was put there so people could put in when they want and take as they need,” said Nick. “Hopefully it’s a blessing to everybody.”

While the Hellebusch family constructed and initially filled the Blessing Barn, they had to petition the support of the community, both for placement and to keep it stocked.

“We’re all really pleased with the positive feedback so many people have given,” said Brooke. “Whenever you make something from your heart, you hope it’s received the way intended. We’re all very happy with the way it’s working out.”

Nick says he stops by each morning around 5 a.m. on his way to work to check the inventory.

“Within two days of it being up, it was stuffed so full you could hardly get the door shut,” said Nick. “The community jumped in right off the bat to help out.”

The family created a Facebook page to inform the community about both what the Blessing Barn could provide and what could be provided for it.

“Some mornings when I stop by, there are empty spaces on the shelves, so it works both ways,” said Nick. “Either way it’s satisfying for our family — to see people donate or to see people using those resources.”

For Brooke, she hopes the idea can reach beyond the city limits of Jonesburg

“If somebody sees this online, maybe it’ll spark that encouragement for them to do the same thing,” said Brooke. “That’s how you change the world. It just takes one person to start it.”

As for this project, the Hellebusch family hopes it serves the community for generations to come.

“It’s poured in concrete,” quipped Nick. “It’s not coming down anytime soon.”


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