This post is sponsored by Mormon.org. All opinions expressed are my own.
This year as part of our homeschool, we participate in a local Christian Exploring Co-Op. We take turns planning field trips for our kids. In addition to the field trips, we schedule a Moms Night Out, a Teen Night, and a Service Project each quarter too. Our last service project was a few weeks ago and we collaborated as a homeschool group to make blessing bags for homeless people.
I know many of us (myself included) are never quite sure what to do when confronted with a homeless person. Should we ignore them, look the other way, a gesture that we don’t have cash on us (which is often actually true)? Should we just say hi? Or should we give them cash or food or even some work?
Many of us are hesitant to give cash, as we question if this person is actually a con-artist, feigning homeless, or if money is used for alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, or other harmful or illegal things?
It’s hard to know for sure!
What I do know is that they are people, many of them in fact down and out, and in need of support and love from another.
I have never been homeless. I don’t really understand their plight. But, I do know the blessing it is to be helped by a stranger (or a friend or family member) when times are tough.
It’s why I love seeing various things innovators, policy makers, and Good Sanitarians do to improve the lives of homeless people, from giving the homeless actual homes, to providing the homeless with work, to creating sleeping bag coats, to giving them haircuts:
I’m all for practical gifts, which is why I love the idea of a blessing bag! It is giving them simple, everyday products to help them better live out on the streets, to be cleaner, drier, healthier, and fed.
I have seen and heard about this idea for quite some time, but never put together a bag until now.
I found that putting together homeless blessing bags was super easy in a group! I did it with my homeschool co-op group, but doing it with your church, school, or work is great too.
Blessing bags are also often known as homeless care packages and are a great way to help homeless women and men. If you’re aware that there is a homeless population in your area, there might be a high demand for hot meals and other simple needs. A good way to know what is needed is to contact support services or talk to someone at the local homeless shelter. Homeless shelters and food banks will have a list of items needed during the various time of year.
Lifting Others Burdens
As a Christian, I want to find opportunities to serve other people. After all, Jesus lifted others’ burdens and so can I. Jesus Christ descended below all things, putting Himself in a position to lift anyone’s burdens. When I lend my strength, abilities, and sometimes monetary resources, to another bogged down by life’s challenges, I act as the Lord’s servant, helping lift another’s load.
December 1 is the Worldwide Day of Service and the perfect day to kick start 25 days of service to others all month long as a way to #LIGHTtheWORLD with charity, kindness, and Christ-like love. We are called to be His lights, His angels, His hands here on Earth.
Mormon.org has provided a calendar of Christ-like behaviors we can try to emulate in our own small and big ways for the first 25 days of December. Each day they provide a new service challenge and suggestions on how to serve in that way. For ideas on how you can serve in your own way, visit Mormon.org each day of December. You can find local service opportunities on JustServe.org as well.
I encourage you to participate in this challenge as you prepare for Christmas Day. Maybe one of these days you can create a blessing bag by yourself or with a group, or otherwise serve a homeless person at Christmastime.
How to Put Together Homeless Blessings Bags as a Group
In an effort to be the hands and feet of Jesus by assembling these blessing bags, we understood that many hands make light work!
It is much easier to assemble several blessing bags as a group than it is by yourself! With a group you split up the bulk buys between individuals (or even better use what individuals already have in bulk), meet up together with your contributions, and set up an assembly line!
And before you know it, your blessing bags are assembled, and every family is leaving with 4-5 bags to put in the back of their vehicles for easy blessing delivering!
What to Put Into Blessing Bags for Homeless
Our group set out to make 50+ bags. Here is what we asked for:
- 1-2 Families to bring 50 or more Gallon sized Ziploc Bags
- 5 Families to bring white or black Adult Socks, supplying 10 or more pairs per family
- 3 Families to bring snacks – granola bars, cheese and crackers, etc
- 3 Families to bring a case of bottled water
- 2 Families to bring mini Hand Sanitizer bottles, 25 each
- 2 Families to provide a pack or two of Hand Sanitizer bottles
- 3 Families to provide mini tissues packs, 20 per family.
- 3 Families to provide toothbrushes, 15-20 per family
- 3 Families to provide (small tubes of) toothpaste, 15-20 per family
Some families provided extra items as well, like leftover Halloween candy and floss. There are lots of additional items you can add too! Feel free to expand this list to include other personal care items like a bar of soap, deodorant, combs, sunscreen, band-aids, chapstick, or even hand warmers, as well as more non-perishable food items like beef jerky, raisins, peanuts, mints, gum, or trail mix. Extra things like gift cards to local grocery stores or eateries are a great idea too.
You’ll need to keep in mind how many families or individuals you have in your group and decide on which items are most important for you to include in your blessing bags, and what is most economical and affordable for your group members. Individuals are always free to add more to their bags after the packing party is over.
Our family provided the facial tissue and put several tissues from a regular sized box into small sandwich bags. I had plenty of boxes on hand, and snack bags, and I know those little mini packs never have enough when you need them!
You can call around to different businesses too, like dentist and doctor offices, to see if they are able to donate things like the toothbrushes, toothpaste, bandages, or hand sanitizer.
Make sure you have a place for people to sign up and list what they are bringing so there is a good variety of items in your bags! If some people can’t be there, but want to participate, they can drop off items with another participating family ahead of time.
The Blessing Bag Assembly Party
When it’s finally time to bring all the items together, create an assembly line of the products, starting with the bags and larger items, and ending with the smaller items last.
We had the children grab bags and walk down the line and the adults hand him or her items to put into their bags (so they received the proper amount of each item). It went super quickly. We assembled around 50 bags, like we planned (some maybe missing an item or two as we started to run out of certain items), in about 10 minutes.
But, before we began, we said a prayer over the bags, asking God to lead us those individuals who could use these bags, and to bless those who receive them.
Once we finished our bags, each family grabbed about four or five blessing bags and put them in the back of their vehicles.
Homeless Blessing Bag Cards & Messages
Construction paper and markers and card-making supplies were provided so the children (and adults) could write cards, containing scripture verses, words of encouragement, or simply a nice picture and note. Many simply wrote “Jesus loves you.” My daughter wrote “I know the Gospel is true” on the outside of one of her cards, which touched my heart.
We still need to create some more notes to add to our bags (and toss in a few other extra items we have on hand) and I came across this beautiful printable quote from President Dieter F. Uctdorf, designed by Polka Dot Poplars, that would be perfect to include inside our bags.
I know that when times are tough, it helps knowing you aren’t alone or forgotten, but loved by someone, somewhere. Homeless people need to know that God loves them very, very much, and cares deeply for their welfare (which why He sent you, His hands, His Light, to them).
The above quote is part of a whole pack of free printables from Polka Dot Poplars with service ideas that I encourage you to check out and use to bless many individuals, homeless or not.
I hope you will take the time to create a blessing bag, or a few, and keep them in your car so that the next time you see someone in need, you can lift another’s burden. We’ve given one away so far, and look forward to the giving away the rest, when the time is right.
Now get out and Light the World!