By Robbie Owens

CEDAR HILL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – On a cool, but sunny afternoon in Cedar Hill, the Alvarado family sorts through a crime scene.

“My daughter and I would be excited to look outside and see the cereal was missing or the formula was missing,” explained Franchesca Alvarado.

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You see, for weeks, their front yard has hosted a neighborhood “blessing box.”

“We had a sign that said ‘A Blessing Box – take what you need, leave what you can,'” explained Alvarado. “We’ve all been there, where we’ve struggled. And if we can all come together and just help each other in those difficult moments, people will see God’s love in that and through that.”

(Credit: Alvarado Family)

The family checked on the box Thursday morning — and it was gone. And not just the food.

“Everything was taken! The sign. The cart. The tub,” she said.

Franchesca even chased down the garbage truck to make sure the workers hadn’t taken it by mistake. They hadn’t.

Her 9-year-old daughter adding, “I thought it was kinda mean.”

Franchesca admits the theft left her frustrated, deflated and more than a little disappointed. But, she was also determined to not let the thief have the final word.

She reached out to neighbors and shared what happened. The response, she says, was classic Cedar Hill.

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It was “like crazy! People were just messaging me back! Like ‘I’m so sorry. We want to donate. What can we do. What can we give you?'” said Alvarado.

She says other supporters didn’t bother to send messages — they just hurried to help.

“This morning, I got a knock on the door: a neighbor showed up with canned goods. My family showed up. My uncle donated money…my cousin. Amazing.” And then, wiping tears from her eyes, “I feel like God’s getting the glory out of it. And that excites me. That makes me happy. There’s more good and there’s more love than there is hate and anger.”

Her husband, Ramiro Alvarado, is already picking up donated supplies with plans to build a bigger “blessing box” over the weekend. This one, they say, will have a lock so they can secure it overnight. But they also plan to add a shelf for donated children’s books, as well.

“Any city you go to, there’s people struggling,” said Ramiro Alvarado. “If we can be a blessing, why not do it?”

The family adds that the effort that began with the goal of helping others is also paying off at home.

“I think it’s brought us closer together, too… even as a family,” added Ramiro. “My daughter, she starts looking for things she can give.”

“I want my children to be kind,” explained Franchesca. “I want them to show the love of God in how they respond and act. I want them to have that heart to give.”

So to the person who stole the “blessing box,” Franchesca offers grace. Forgiveness.

“I think I’d just say `God bless you.’ I hope the food helped you and your family… what you did was not right. But God will get glory through the situation,” she said.

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