Struggling Parents, Vets, and the Homeless
Have you ever sat at a red light with a panhandler wielding a sign that says something like “Anything helps”, or “Homeless, Need food, Please Help, God Bless”, or how about “Struggling Mother”, “Struggling Father”, or “Homeless Vet”? Did you open your wallet and give them money, or did you look away and guiltily ignore them, wishing the light would turn green? Maybe you didn’t have any cash with you; that happens to me a lot, I rarely have any cash on me. What if it’s a scam, and this person isn’t homeless or struggling, but instead, they drive a nicer car than you do? Or maybe, just maybe, you were afraid to give them money and have them abuse your generosity by buying alcohol, cigarettes, or even drugs?
What if you could help those people standing at the intersections by giving them some of the things they really need? Wouldn’t it be nice if the next time you are sitting at a red light and you see someone in need, you will have something to give that person that you know will be a blessing to them?
Blessing Bags and Homeless Care Packages
A new trend that has gained popularity over the past five years is putting together blessing bags, or homeless care packages to hand out to the homeless, the struggling parents, and vets. They are basically large Ziplock bags filled with snacks and drinks, toiletry items and clothing, or anything that could make their life a little easier. Some people choose to fill up backpacks to hand out or donate to local shelters, as well.
A couple of years ago, the ladies in our church decided to have the children put together blessing bags as a service project. Many of the items that went into the bags were bought at the Dollar Tree and Walmart, or bought in bulk on Amazon. All of the items were brought to the church and the organizers set everything up so that the bags could be filled in an assembly line manned by the children.
The children saw the need for the blessing bags and were eager to put them together and pass them out. Each child was given a certain amount of bags to take home and give out. The children could put the bags in their parent’s vehicles, to be given away whenever they encountered someone in need. Several families shared inspiring stories of giving their bags to someone in need, talking to them and praying for that person.
For our family, we gave the bags out to people we saw at local intersections. There were a couple that regularly stood at certain intersections every day that my kids were familiar with and they were excited about being able to give them a bag. A couple of people we gave bags to were excited about all that the bags contained, and there were a couple that you could tell would have preferred money, but that’s ok. Every time we gave a bag away, we introduced ourselves and asked for that person’s name and told them we would be praying for them.
It’s not just the people standing at intersections that can be blessed by one of these bags. You can contact your local homeless shelter, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Women’s Center, Star of Hope, maybe even a food bank, and ask if you could put together some bags for them, and what they recommend filling them with. Contact your local public schools and ask if there’s a way to donate bags of school supplies, toiletry items and clothing for children in need. I have a friend who organizes a group every year to put together tote bags for the local Ronald McDonald House full of things for the children and their families.
This would be a wonderful service project for churches, children’s ministries, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, schools, classrooms, sports teams, or clubs. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. If you are unsure of what to put in a blessing bag, I have a Blessing Bag Checklist that has many suggestions. You don’t have to fill your bags with everything on the list, so don’t panic when you see it. You can decide what kind of bags you would like to put together and use the list to help make that happen. Be a blessing, give a bag.
Download here: Blessing Bags Checklist
How about you? Have you ever made blessing bags, and if so, what all did you put in yours?
Like this post? You should check out one of my other popular posts on Pantry Essentials to Take the Stress out of Mealtime!
May blessings and Smiles be yours,
Melissa (being-a-blessing) Shantel