Gift Bags for the Homeless
This past Easter, our church put together “baskets” for people serviced by two homeless shelters in our area. After discussing what would be best to put in them with the directors of these programs, we loaded them up with helpful goodies: a new toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, paper and pen, socks, and even a sweet treat (it was Easter, after all).
After filling 400 boxes, our kids were pumped. They had such a fun time touching and seeing the physical needs of people in our community. On our way home, my 7-year-old son asked if we could make bags containing these items and a few others to hand out to people we see in need as we drive through the city.
Although I thought it was a wonderful idea, and had even put thought into what to include, I have to be honest here - I totally forgot about this project a couple of times. I hadn’t taken the idea to the action stage, but with the sun beaming down this week, I was reminded once again of the need.
So off I went to collect some things for the bags.
- - Gallon-sized plastic bags
- - Socks
- - Toothbrushes
- - Toothpaste
- - Granola bars
- - Bottles of water
- - Paper
- - Pens
- Sweet notes of encouragement
You can find these things anywhere, but since I’m on a tight budget, I hit up discount stores.
Once I secured all my supplies, I had my kids start assembling. One pair of socks in each bag. The toothbrush and toothpaste will fit nicely inside the gallon-sized bag, and will then hopefully not get all dirty. I looked for bars that have enough calories and protein to make a meal and included two in each bag. I’d love to be able to buy reusable water bottles, but for now, I stuck with the disposable variety and put two of those in as well.
I included paper and pen because it’s something one of the directors of our local shelter said was needed. I’ve thought about also including a stamped envelope, but might save that for another time.
Lastly, I had my kids make notes of encouragement for the people we run into. Who wouldn’t love a handwritten (scribbled) note full of cute little drawings? Plus it gives my kids another opportunity to make a personal connection in this act of service. After they were all loaded up and ready to go, I take time with my kids to pray over the bags. I have no idea what some of these individuals are going through, but God does, and I want our effort to be met with the added benefit of prayer.
Depending on where you live, you may not have to go very far to pass these bags out. We usually pass at least 10 people on the street a week, giving us plenty of opportunity to reach out. Otherwise you may think about taking a little mini missions trip by loading up your vehicle full of these bags and intentionally seeking people out to give them to.
Overall, the 10 bags I put together cost about $55. There are a lot of other things you could do to add or spice up these bags. You could upgrade to those cinch backpacks, add in an extra fast food gift card, or include a small Bible -- the possibilities are endless. But no matter what you include in the bag, be sure to deliver with a smile!
Esther is a wife and homeschooling mother of 6 from Central Minnesota. She can often be found driving her big van to her kids' activities or sitting in her local movie theater with her husband. You can find her blog at http://forthisisthetime.com or follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/estheraspling @EstherAspling