Caring Communities is a series developed to highlight the volunteers, events and organizations throughout the many areas of Chatham-Kent that generously give their time and energy to help support a healthy and caring community.

From sampling the delicious wares at the annual Cherry Festival or splashing around in Talbot Trail Place to walking the gorgeous beaches of Lake Erie, Blenheim is a town that thrives on welcoming guests and community members.

But when the bustle of activity slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, organizers and residents had to find new ways to stay connected to their community.
For retailer Sarah Evan, owner of the popular shop, Antiquated Joys on Talbot Street, shuttering her store to in-person traffic 15 months ago and then weathering the news of another lockdown last winter was disheartening. Feeling a little bleak and wanting to find a way to spark some joy in the community, she began to offer a “Soap Box” to the first 50 lucky customers to sign up each month.

An assortment of carefully curated goods, ranging from gourmet salt to soap, textiles, and preserves.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lozon

At $40 each, the mystery box satisfies many of Antiquated Joys’s (and their customers’) ethos: source eco-friendly and local products to support small and sustainable businesses, then donate $5 from each box sold to a different local organization each month. The items in the box are always unknown, says Sarah, “It is a surprise, you order it sight unseen, just trusting that I won’t let you down.” With boxes selling out almost as soon as they are offered on the first of each month, it’s clear that Antiquated Joys does not let their customers down.

So why is it called the Soap Box? Sarah says that it’s “a nod to a soap box being a way to air your views publicly, the box also contains one bar of our handmade soap.”

Not only has money from Soap Box sales been donated to The United Way of Chatham-Kent, Chatham-Kent Hospice, ACCESS Open Minds, Chatham Kent Women’s Centre, Outreach for Hunger, Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, and Indspire, but it has brought even more community partners together as other businesses have been generous in donating to the Box.

“Each month we also ask local businesses if they would contribute something that gives people something else to look forward to, in the form of a coupon or gift card.”

Sarah says that the monthly donations from the boxes may be small, but she believes that by posting about the boxes on their website, Facebook and Instagram, it inspires people to continue to give, and “remind(s) the people behind these organizations that we see them, and appreciate their hard work.”

And we see you Sarah, Antiquated Joys and the town of Blenheim, and the caring community that you are.