How to make thoughtful blessing bags. There's no better time than the holidays to reach out and give back to your community and those who are less fortunate. Discover how to make blessing bags that count.
For a lot of us, the holiday season is full of shopping concerts, parties, and other activities.
But it's also a time when many of us feel the urge to donate to those in need. But giving to charitable organizations can feel impersonal.
That's not the case with Blessing Bags!
By helping members of your local community, you can be confident that your donations will reach the right people.
And be prepared that you'll walk away with the feeling that you have received more than you've given!
How to get started
There are many ways to make blessing bags. You can include anything from toiletries and underwear to socks, games, and snacks. But first, you have to decide how you are going to deliver your Blessing Bags and how many you will able to fit into your budget.
How are you going to wrap your gifts? I recommend using Zip Lock Bags. These are great for stuffing underwear, socks, or hats.
AND, good ziplock bags are useful to people who have very little and may need to protect what they do have from water damage or even just separating clean from dirty.
Another alternative 'wrapping method' is Reusable Water Bottles. My husband and I have actually done this during a summer giving drive and they were very well received.
Next, you'll have to think about how to connect with the homeless community. If you belong to a church, chances are that you’ll have a mission or outreach committee that works with local shelters.
If you are are not a member of a faith community, contact nearby shelters and ask if they can give you advice on how to get started.
Another option is to prepare a set number of bags and just load up your car. Drive to an area where you know homeless people gather, and simply hand out your blessing bags.
You can choose to make blessing bags as a family or organize your friends and coworkers. The time you spend carefully choosing useful or comfortable items is a blessing in and of itself!
It makes you put yourself into someone else’s shoes for a little while. I always come away feeling happy gratitude for the blessings in my own life.
Planning your Blessing Bags
When it comes to deciding what to include in your Blessing Bags, try to strike a balance between necessities and something special.
While some of the items such as socks are always needed, some other things might differ depending on the climate you live in.
We try to think of things that provide dignity. Imagine not being able to change your underwear because you don’t have another pair.
Think about having a runny nose and how useful a pack of tissues would be. And think about not being able to wash your hands when you want to, this is why hand sanitizers or wet-wipes so incredibly useful.
Now let’s get specific. First, think about your budget. How much can you spend per person? How many people do you think you will be able to reach?
Again, if this is your first time, I recommend contacting a local shelter for advice.
Generally speaking, you can keep the per-bag cost lower if you only include snacks and toiletries.
Once you include clothing items such as Long John’s or scarves the per bag price will increase quite a bit.
Therefore it’s important to figure out what your budget is beforehand!
What to include in your Blessing Bags
You can make a difference in someone’s day with a $5 Blessing Bag. You can make a difference in someone’s week with a $30 Blessing Bag.
This is where getting together with a few other people can make a huge difference and increase your budget.
- Welch's Fruit Snack Packs
- Goldfish Cracker Packs
- Granola Bars
- Chewing Gum
- Advil (travel packs).
- Band-aid Travel Pack. Cuts and scrapes are a reality of street life. Having a supply of bandages can fight off infection.
- Hand Sanitizers
- Hand Warmers
- Sunscreen & Lotion. This will help with dry and cracked hands.
- Toothbrushes. A lot of times dental care is simply not available to homeless people. Choose soft toothbrushes that are easier for sensitive or infected gums.
- Talcum Powder
- Playing Cards. The reality is that homelessness comes boredom.
- Notepad and Pens
Adding clothing items in your Blessing Bags is a great option. But before you start buying clothing, think about how many Blessing Bags are in your budget.
Also, consider that you'll probably want to buy several sizes. We've found that medium to extra large items is the most popular sizes. But whenever possible, we try to have a few XXL items as well.
- Socks. Typically the least expensive clothing item. And in our experience, socks are always appreciated. Make sure to buy trouser or knee-high socks (especially if you live in a colder climate). Avoid thin dress socks, shorter crew socks, and micro socks.
- Long Sleeve Shirts. If you have a bigger budget go for long sleeve shirts. Again, think dignity. Long sleeves are more protective, warmer, and hide potential marks.
- Underwear. This one is so important. Bear in mind that a homeless person might not have regular access to laundry facilities. Having spares can really make a difference.
- Long Johns. With homelessness comes the cold and braving the elements.
- Gloves. If possible look for waterproof gloves.
- Scarves. Instead of buying scarves you could also opt to knit yourself. Maybe you have a family member who loves knitting. That can also be a great project to get your kids involved in.
This is the time to buy in bulk. Compare pricing and look for sales whenever possible. If you're buying from a local store, try to speak with a manager and see if they will work with you on the price.
How to Organize Your Blessing Bags
If you're planning to make blessing bags for homeless people, keep in mind that storage is always going to be an issue.
Even if they are living in a shelter, they often don't have more than a locker to store their personal belongings. And most shelters require that their guests leave the facilities during the day.
Making blessing bags has become one of our favorite Christmas traditions. There are a million and one things to do during the holidays, but one of the most rewarding things you can do is to give back.
Sharing is Caring. Share Your Blessing Bags
I predict that you will be overwhelmed (and maybe even a bit embarrassed) by the reactions of gratitude. You won't be able to change somebody's life, but you will be able to make their day a little better.
Are Blessing Bags part of your family tradition? What are your favorite items to give? Let me know in the comments.