Old Morning News Racks are Repurposed to Assist the Homeless

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Some old heavy-duty, weatherproof newspaper boxes are getting a second life in Florence, S.C. The Morning News recently partnered with House of Hope, a shelter that serves the homeless, and Tie One On Florence, a campaign that provides clothing for the less fortunate, to repurpose and redecorate the boxes to serve Florence’s homeless population by housing donations.

Bailey Dabney, regional publisher at Lee Enterprises (parent company of the Morning News), told E&P that the Morning News had moved to mainly store sales for single copies over the last few years since most people no longer carry coins. As a result, the newsroom removed the boxes in the area, but they began stacking up in their building’s parking lot. Last year, Bryan Braddock, executive director of the House of Hope and the architect behind the project, approached Dabney with the idea to repurpose them after someone suggested it to him.

“The ultimate goal is to have a distribution system that is dignified and private and to do it in a way that is fun,” Braddock said.

The boxes will store clothes, water, food and other items. Braddock said about 20 to 25 boxes will be repurposed and placed throughout Florence and Darlington—some will be placed in front of local shops or organizations, such as a local coffee shop and church.

At press time, the House of Hope as well as volunteers outside of the organization—such as local artists and high schools—were preparing to paint the boxes so that they are noticeable around the communities. He hopes they will show off different motifs and be representative of art.

Both Braddock and Dabney said after the Morning News ran the piece about the initiative in late November, people began stepping up and voicing the desire to help. The fact that volunteers, businesses, and organizations have stepped forward to be a part of this project told Braddock that the public was receptive of the idea.

“We’re taking something that was iconic—the old newspaper box—and using it to assist someone in need,” he said. “The community is very excited.”

Braddock also believes that in the time of COVID-19, it is important that the community see many people come together to make this project happen. Dabney agreed that is it important for the community to see their local newspaper participate in a project like this one.

“We aren’t doing this for kudos. We’re doing it because this is a great project,” Dabney said. “But I don’t think communities anywhere recognize the degree to which newspapers do things to benefit their community because we tell other people’s stories, we don’t really tell our own story very often.”

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