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Poverty in America - families helping families.

The Box Project is a 43 year old national non-profit organization working to alleviate poverty in rural America one family at a time.

rural non profitIn 1962, Virginia Naeve, a caring woman from Jamaica, Vermont met Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Clarie Collins Harvey from Jackson, MS. They discussed living conditions in the Mississippi Delta and what might be done to help families in one of the most devastated areas of rural poverty and injustice in America. While Ms. Naeve considered what she could do to lessen the burden of poverty in this country, Clarie Harvey and Mrs. King sent her the name of first one family and then other needy families in MS and Georgia.

Ms. Naeve began writing letters and sending boxes of clothing, food, and supplies to her Mississippi family, and soon neighbors were enlisted to help with her project and began sending boxes to their assigned families in Mississippi too. Eventually The Box Project grew so big it had to move out of Ms Naeve's home and into a local Methodist Church. Through word of mouth more and more families were added to the mailing list and eventually the simple idea of matching families in poverty with caring sponsors from across the country gave birth to The Box Project and the Family Match Program.

The Box Project mission is: To encourage families and individuals living in rural poverty in America to become self-sufficient and overcome the cycle of poverty by offering them friendship, education, and material aid. Through our Family Match Program volunteer sponsors are directly matched with individuals and families living in rural poverty in America. Sponsors develop long-term friendships, providing encouragement, advice, and boxes of needed supplies about once a month. Sponsors communicate and send letters and boxes directly to the families they are matched with, enhancing the one-to-one experience. As the families come to know each other, trust and friendships grow--providing a positive and valuable experience for both the recipient and the sponsor. Some sponsors have been known to help put kids through college, and they act as a window on the world of possibilities.

With the success of the Family Match program, we expanded to include additional volunteer match options for other ways to help such as: Holiday Match, a match only through the winter holidays; and Community Center Match, which matches a sponsor or sponsor group with a rural community center.

Additional programs funded through donations include our Emergency Fund providing emergency assistance to recipients in times of crisis, a Back to School Fund to help with school supplies and uniforms. Because education is one of our core values we offer an Educational Award Fund that provides deserving recipient family students with some financial assistance to encourage them to pursue higher education as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty. Education is a core value of The Box Project. We firmly believe that education is one of the most important ways to increase self-sufficiency and break the cycle of poverty. Our steadfast commitment is to continue working to remove the barriers to education and make a significant impact on the areas of rural poverty that we serve.

"One of the most unique features of The Box Project is that we match families with each other without being in the middle of the relationship." said Patneaude. " Sponsors pay a $50 initial membership fee and $35 a year after that, and many contribute financially to the organization as well, but they send their monthly "box" right to their recipient family, not to The Box Project. Long-term relationships develop between families, and sponsors not only teach their children the value of giving back, the whole family experiences the joy of making a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.

"The Box Project staff makes and tracks the matches and helps with any problems that arise, we offer an online Chatterbox where sponsors share information and ideas, we provide regional information about the culture and norms of the family being sponsored to help familiarize new sponsors with the information they need to help, we provide updated information, develop programs and services, we make resource connections in the areas we serve, and we publish a newsletter packed with helpful information."

"Right now," said Patneaude, "we have over 5000 matched families. Recipients live in rural areas of the Mississippi Delta, the Native American reservations in South Dakota, in Maine, and in Appalachia. Our goal is to intensify our services to those areas before we expand to other states, but we are certainly looking in other areas of the country where rural poverty abounds."

The Box Project relies on generous contributions, grants and membership fees to support our programs and services. For more information or to become a sponsor, a donor or a volunteer, please go to www.boxproject.org

Contact The Box Project:

100 Business Center Drive Suite
Ormond Beach, FL 32174

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