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This new box on a Hamilton corner is part of a retired plumber’s quest to feed the hungry

William Brown with the Blessing Box he built and installed in Hamilton. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
William Brown with the Blessing Box he built and installed in Hamilton. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

William Brown, a retired plumber who worked many years in Hamilton, has installed a “Blessing Box” on a property he owns in the city. Its purpose is to provide food to people who need it.

The boxes are similar to those used as “little libraries” for taking and leaving books, but this one is filled with items such as Tuna Helper, a can of Tuna, a box of cereal, several kinds of soup, salted crackers, boxes of pasta, peanut butter, Vienna sausage, flour, pinto beans, toilet paper, diced potatoes and a King James Version of the Bible.

Brown, 66, who was a plumber in Hamilton with Brown & Sons, spends about six days of the week in Camden, in Preble County, where he has a similar box in his front yard. He also spends a day each week in Hamilton.

“I thought, ‘Well, heck, I’ve got property on Hanover Street, and I can put one there,” he said.

The box is located at 519 Hanover St., at the southeast corner of Hanover and U.S. 127.

“I’d seen where a fella up in New Jersey or something like that had one of the boxes, and he’d seen what I’d seen in Hamilton. There’s a half-dozen boxes where people put books in, where people come and get books,” Brown said.

“He improvised on that, and made it canned goods and something to help people to get through the day, or whatever. And I thought, well, that is a great idea.”

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Brown hopes it will be used by “just anybody who’s hungry,” he said. “It’s not just for homeless people. There’s people that don’t make enough money during the week to actually feed their families at night all the time. You figure anything’s helpful.”

“There’s other people that help come stock it. My son (William Brown III), he lives in Hamilton, and he helps keep it stocked. It helps that I can give him a case of food, and he’s a plumber by trade, so he’s all around, and he stops by.”

His son, who learned the trade from him, has his own business, William Brown Plumbing.

After he saw an article about the other Blessing Box, “It weighed on me for about a week or so, and I thought, ‘I can put this together. I can do this,’” he said. “Because I know the need’s out there. And it about stays empty.”

He installed the box, which he built, about two months ago. His girlfriend, Linda Hughes, works as a bartender at Grub Pub on Ohio 4 in Hamilton and also helps stock.

“The one up in Camden, there’s a lot of people who help up on that one, and I very seldom have to put anything in there,” he said. “People in the neighborhood, they help keep it stocked. I think it does help that right next door to us there’s a school house that they converted into a residence for older people. And they sure seem cheerful about giving. And I’ve got a pretty good idea that’s where a big part of it comes from.”

He buys canned goods, snacks and other items he finds good bargains on whenever he visits Save A Lot, ALDI or Dollar Tree, and has learned to avoid glass after a jar of spaghetti sauce broke.

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“Since I don’t really go to church, I believe in tithing, and this is my way of giving the 10 percent,” he said. “So, it work out right.”

After he left on Wednesday, a man and woman came by, he on a motorized bicycle, and she walking, and removed some items.

“Nice idea,” said the man, who didn’t want to give his name. “It’ll help people get fed.”