Troy Christian grad’s food charity a blessing to people in need

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Troy Christian grad Maiya Dilbone started the Community Food Truck blessing box effort

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Maiya Dilbone has volunteered in her community for years, but she launched what turned out to be her biggest effort last year, and it had perfect timing.

Dilbone, a 2021 Troy Christian High School graduate, saw the embarrassment some people felt when they came to the St. Patrick soup kitchen for help. She went looking for a way to erase that stigma and landed on an idea that’s now spreading through Miami County.

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She and her dad, Kevin, built five wooden “blessing boxes” decorated like food trucks, which can be filled with nonperishable food items. The idea was for a more anonymous “take what you need” system.

After a series of roadblocks and worries about liability, Dilbone found her first partner, as Shane Carter at Troy’s Lincoln Center agreed to put a box outside their facility.

“I said here’s the idea, ‘It could be a total flop, I don’t know.’ But he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ … And right then everything shut down (due to COVID),” Dilbone said. “I thought, ‘Oh, maybe this isn’t the right time to do it.’ We got the first one installed, but I was like, no one’s out and about. Then I came back the next day and it was completely empty.”

No one could have predicted it when March 2020 started, but suddenly thousands of people were out of work, and children who normally got free breakfast and lunch at school were stuck at home.

Troy Christian High School graduate Maiya Dilbone created the Community Food Truck blessing box charity effort in Miami County. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF PHOTO
Troy Christian High School graduate Maiya Dilbone created the Community Food Truck blessing box charity effort in Miami County. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF PHOTO

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

Credit: Jeremy P. Kelley

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The effort took off, with more agencies agreeing to host a Community Food Truck blessing box, and more people regularly donating food and supplies. Now there are 10 “trucks” around Troy, two in Tipp City, and a new box in Pleasant Hill as of last month.

“Honestly it was God’s timing,” Dilbone said. “One of the coolest things is that in the middle of all this uncertainty, these food trucks haven’t just brought food to the hungry, but hope to the hopeless.”

Dilbone was involved in many ways at Troy Christian, playing four years of soccer, being active on student council, planning chapels and serving as a teacher assistant. She said student council helped her grow as a leader.

Troy Christian Principal Paul Gibboney called Dilbone a self-starter who is willing to serve, but also willing to take leadership in several projects.

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“She took the initiative of not only planning the logistics, but also coordinating the workers, supervising the whole process and she got things accomplished,” Gibboney said. “She’s going to be greatly missed here as a student and a leader in the academic and sports area, but also the leadership and ministry areas that we count on.”

Now Dilbone is headed to Ohio Northern University, an hour north in Ada, where she’ll put her project leadership skills to work earning a business degree.

“I had my heart set on being a school counselor,” she said. “But I started doing the food trucks and found my love for business. My mom runs the family construction company, so my goal is to come back and take over what she does.”

Dilbone said her mom, Kristen, is her “No. 1 fan.” Her mother is the person who got her started in volunteering, and Maiya said her mom will jump on board even her most ambitious ideas.

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The Community Food Truck blessing box effort was certainly ambitious, leading Maiya to successfully file for 501(c)3 charity status for the organization and to secure grants that help fund the effort. She thanked the many churches, sports teams, individuals and community organizations that have contributed as well.

Dilbone also learned that sometimes you have to pivot. Efforts to keep a Community Food Truck blessing box at Garden Manor Apartments didn’t work out despite a need. So Dilbone packs her Ford Escape with food each week, showing up on site with hugs and snacks for dozens of kids.

“Something that we thought was a failure turned out to be something great,” she said.

With Dilbone headed to college in the fall, she said she’ll handle some of the charity’s work remotely, but added that her mom and the group’s “awesome volunteers” have every intention of keeping things going.

“One of our volunteers started out by using the boxes when she lost her job due to COVID,” Dilbone said. “Then she reached out to us, she’s a single mom with a daughter, and said, ‘You have saved my family so many times. How can I give back?’ Now she’s one of our volunteers. We provide the food and she stocks the boxes. It’s awesome that it can go both ways.”

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