Ever since I was a kid, I felt like it was my mission to help the homeless. I live in NY, and I remember whenever we went to the city, I’d empty out my piggy bank into my purse and I’d give some change to every homeless person we passed. Now looking back, those nickles didn’t do much for them, but I have come up with a better idea since then. It’s a way that I can give back to my community, while also including my son in on it (because passing down kindness is important in this family!).
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The past few years have been hard on a lot of people. Homelessness is on the rise and that just breaks my heart. In just the short 20 minute drive from my house to my mom’s, we pass at least 3 homeless people (on a “good” day). How awful is that?!
Making a little blessing bag is so simple to make and it can really help get them through their day. It’s also a great way to include kids and teach them that God gave us the responsibility to take care of each other and our community.
I read a LOT of Chicken Soup For the Soul Books growing up. I honestly think that’s what made me such a compassionate child and I really think the world would be a better place those books were on every kids bookshelves. Children are so innocent, as is their world, and as much as we should want to protect them and keep them that way, we must also raise them to be kind and compassionate individuals. Every child knows what it’s like to be hungry and cranky. That’s why creating a blessing bag full of little goodies is something that they can easily understand and relate to.
I love to make blessing bags full of winter items (socks, hats, blankets, gloves, finger warmers, etc.) around Thanksgiving, however, we are now heading into the Summer where they won’t need those warming items anymore. Now is the time that I fill my blessing bags with goodies and treats. I’ll usually separate the items we bought into categories (drinks, candy, crackers, protein, etc.), and we will go around filling our bag with one item from each section.
This is fun for kids and may really open them up to discussing deeper conversations about empathy and life. My son loves making blessing bags and we’ve even started to hand them out at our craft fair events so that other’s can pass them out as well. We all must work together to take care of those less fortunate.
What to Include in your Blessing Bag
Individually packed items are necessary. You wouldn’t want to eat something already opened and just tossed into a ziploc bag and handed to you by a stranger, would you?
Here are some great snack options:
Crackers (filled with cheese or plain)
Again, make sure these are individually wrapped and don’t need refrigeration. Additionally, make sure that no can opener is required, and give them any utensils necessary for eating the snacks you’re providing.
Packet of Tuna
Peanut Butter Balls (some people prefer to stay away from peanuts in case of allergies, but I find most people aren’t allergic and they really appreciate peanut butter!)
Fruits or Vegetables
Look for ones that are pre-packaged or don’t require refrigeration.
Fruit snacks (do these count?)
Applesauce (squeeze packages are easy and don’t require a spoon!)
Something to Drink
If you can include more than one drink, that is ideal.
A Piece of Candy or Sweet Treat
Everyone loves a treat. This is literally my favorite thing to include in their bag!
Individually wrapped hard candy or lollipops
A Small Gift Card
Gift cards will give a homeless person a way into an establishment to get warm (in the winter) or cool off (in the summer). It also gives them a chance to use the bathroom and wash up.
$10 gift card to places like McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Panera Bread, etc.
Don’t Forget to Leave Them a Little Note!
Because YOU (and your kids) are making this very special bag, let your personality shine in it. Let them know that just because they ended up here, this doesn’t mean they are any less of a person. Print out or write your own little note for them.
You can also have children write something sweet or even just draw a picture for them! Never underestimate the power of a small child’s picture/words. (Be sure, however, to double check that it’s appropriate to include in the bag! Some kids have no filter and still don’t understand what is and is not nice to say to others. They’re learning though!)
I’ve also made these cute little tags to include on your bags if you’d prefer to print instead of write!
Just click below!
There are also a few other things you can include (or avoid).
Include resealable items that they can save for later
Include BRIGHT COLORS to help brighten their day
Tie the bag off with a ribbon or put everything in a large ziploc bag to ensure everything stays together
Include napkins and wet ones so that they can clean their hands before eating
Don’t include anything gummy (homeless people don’t always have the best teeth and this can sometimes aggravate or hurt them)