North Philly college student places blessing boxes in local park for anyone in need

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- 22-year-old Abigail Preletz made the move to the big city to study criminal justice. Originally from the small town of Catasauqua in the Lehigh Valley, the senior at Penn State Abington is now living in North Philadelphia.

One of the biggest differences, she notes, is the volume. "Definitely much quieter in my hometown," she said.

But she noticed another issue greater than the noise level. "I have definitely seen a big homeless population," she said.

So, she decided to make a difference.

"It's the least I can do," Preletz said as she packed a miniature convenience store's worth of goods into a cardboard box.

After being laid off from work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had some extra time on her hands. "I'm just taking money out of my unemployment check and taking a ride over to the store and picking up some snacks and masks and sanitizer," she said.

Preletz places the pop-up box in the middle of the park near her apartment. She rarely sees the fruits of her labor, as she walks away and never looks back.

"It's really like a no-judgment thing. Come grab what you need," she said. She never wants anyone to feel awkward when taking from the blessing box.

After she graduates next May, Preletz hopes to work as an advocate for people who have been victimized in any way.

In the meantime, she will keep refilling the blessing box whenever necessary.

Preletz is not asking for money or help to continue her efforts. "I would just love to see if more people started doing this," she said.

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