I don’t know about you, but I love Pinterest! There are so many fabulous ideas there I would have never thought of on my own! But here’s what Pinterest often looks like for me:
Step 1: Find cute/yummy/brilliant thing
Step 2: Pin it to a board
Step 3: Never see or do anything with it ever again
Anyone else?? Please tell me I’m not alone on this!
One creative idea that I added to a board (a couple of years ago!) was the idea of “Blessing Bags” and by some amazing feat, I actually managed to make this one come off of the Pinterest board and into real life!!!
Blessing bags are a simple concept, but a wonderful way to serve. All you do is take a bag and fill it with items that would be useful to a person living out on the streets. Add a thoughtful note and put it in your car so you have it when the need arises. That’s it! Super simple!
These have been the PERFECT fix for that uncomfortable situation we’ve all been in before: stopped at a red light and there is someone standing there holding a sign asking for money.
I don’t want to ignore them. I want them to know I see them, I care about their situation. But my husband and I also have a rule that we don’t hand them cash since many of them (although certainly not all) have addictions we don’t want to contribute to. Plus, I rarely have any cash with me anyway.
It hurts my heart to know a large percentage of this population are our nation’s veterans.
During our time in Philly doing inner-city ministry, we learned a way to handle these type of situations work well if someone approaches us when we are outside of our vehicle. We simply offer to go with them to a nearby restaurant and buy them a meal.
Usually, they gratefully accept, but I have occasionally been told no. I assume those are the individuals who most likely were going to use the money on things other than food anyway.
What’s so great about this method is that it allows you not just the opportunity to provide for their physical needs, but also for their emotional and spiritual. As we walk and stand in line to order, we get the chance to talk- to ask their name, a little bit about them, and often even have the chance to pray with them. I can’t tell you how much I love when this happens!
But the “in the car stopped at a red-light situation” had remained a difficult one- until I discovered blessing bags that is! Now I have a way to meet those same physical and emotional needs in the brief time I have with them by being prepared.
My daughter helped me shop, assemble, and pray over these bags as we were learning about what it means to be generous this past winter and she loved it! I would encourage you to involve your kids in this activity too.
Read on to see pictures and a quick tutorial on how to make your very own blessing bags!
- Gallon-sized plastic bags or paper lunch sacks + smaller bags to separate toiletry items
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, Band-Aids, baby wipes, shampoo, sunscreen, chapstick, hand sanitizer, etc.)
- Clothing (Socks or gloves during cold months)
- Non-perishable food items (oatmeal packs, granola bars, energy bars, tuna cracker packs, trail mix, dried fruit, applesauce pouches, beef jerky, water bottle, etc. )
- Optional items (grocery store/restaurant gift cards, bus/subway tokens, or a prepaid phone)
- Note of encouragement
*Something I did not include, but wish I would have, is a list of resources (shelters, food banks, etc.) that could potentially provide some additional help.
1. Make a list of items you want to purchase and how many you will need. Also, think about whether you are making bags for males or females. We did some of each, but I found I encountered males more often than females.
2. Go to the store and purchase items. Here is what we put in our bags:
3. Type up a note of encouragement. Make it personal to you and your family. Ours was pretty plain, but feel free to jazz it up a bit!
4. Assemble your bags. I would recommend putting toiletry items in their own smaller bag to keep them separate from the food items.
5. Gather as a family and pray over the bags and for the individuals who will receive them.
6. Place bags in your car (glove compartment or middle console maybe- not the trunk) where you can easily reach them when stopped in traffic.
7. Now be on the lookout for people you can bless!
Hopefully now when you find yourself in that awkward situation, you are prepared and know exactly what to do. Plus, you are setting a great example for your kids! Keep up the good work mama!
P.S.- For more ideas on how to your kids can serve others, scroll down or click here to sign up for my monthly Prayer Calendar for Kids. Every week has an idea for a service opportunity that’s perfect for kids!