You’ve probably been there: driving around town, kids in the back of the car, coming up to a street corner where an individual or a family stands holding a sign. The sign says something along the lines of “Homeless. Anything Helps. God Bless.”
What’s your response? What’s the response from your children? My ten-year-old daughter always wants to help and begins looking around the car for any spare change, blankets, food, or anything that might be helpful. Rather than go into detail about how some people in this situation may use the money given them to feed an addiction, I want my daughter to be moved to action. This compassionate side is something I love about her.
So…we came upon the idea for Blessing Bags…and decided to make some of our own. These are bags, simple to assemble, that can be kept in your car for when you come across someone that may be displaced from their home. If you don’t feel comfortable handing them out of your car, you can take Blessing Bags to a nearby shelter and let them distribute them for you. They will know who needs them.
Our Blessing Bags were made using a gallon zip-lock bag and placing some of the suggested items below in each bag.
- bottled water
- individually wrapped snacks (granola bars, peanut butter, and crackers, etc)
- travel size toiletry items (shampoo/conditioner/soap/lotion/body wash)
- rain poncho
- food that is one serving in a pop-top can or pouch (soup, tuna, beef jerky, mandarin oranges, applesauce) with utensils, if needed
In our case, not every Blessing Bag looked the same – but they all included several items from the list. Additionally, my daughter wanted to add a note and a list of some local agencies. So, she created a flyer with resources of local shelters and food pantries and 2-1-1 (HeartLine), along with a note that said “You matter. You are not forgotten. We hope this blessing bag brightens your day.”
This project was something that was on her heart so much that she invited friends over, asked them to bring items for the bags, and they assembled them together. Friends of mine donated items as well, as several had travel size toiletries they had been saving from hotel stays, which were perfect for this project. The day of the assembly party, every guest could take Blessing Bags when they left, or could leave them for us to distribute.
And in case you think this isn’t a big problem in our city, note this report from The Homeless Alliance – OKC:
“In 2018, there were a total of 1,183 “countable” people who were experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City. It’s estimated that a community’s annual number of homeless is four to five times it’s one-night census – in this case 4,732 to 5,915 people who experience homelessness in Oklahoma City every year.”
Our family may not be able to help all 5,000 living in homelessness in our city, but at least we now have a tangible response to those we do come into contact with, thanks to my ten-year-old daughter.