The idea is to create a "blessing bag" to keep in your car to hand to the homeless as you come across them. There are a variety of ideas of things you can add to your bags. I came across several different ideas and have compiled the lists from here, here and here and added a few ideas of my own. The great thing about these bags is that you feel like you are able to do something for those in need without feeling like you may be contributing to an addiction problem in their lives. You are meeting some of their most basic needs and sharing Jesus' love for them at the same time.
Our family went to the Dollar Store and we bought enough items to fill 5 blessing bags. We did 3 male bags and 2 female bags. My husband and I each carry a few in our cars so that we are prepared to hand them out any time we come across someone in need. My husband already delivered one of his and we tried to deliver one from my car on Sunday, but we weren't on the right side of the intersection. On our way back by there we tried to get to the other side, but weren't able to. It was disappointing.
Anyway, we spent about $5 dollars per bag, so it's not a huge cost either. I've also heard of churches or groups of friends getting together to make a large amount of them. In that case each person signs up to bring a large quantity of a certain item and then you assemble them at a gathering. Depending on how many you make each person can take some to keep in their car. We did ours as a family activity, which I think was a good time to teach our kids about looking for ways to help other people around us.
Here is a list of ideas to get you started:
*You fill a gallon size zip lock bag with a combination of the following items:
-Packages of tissues
-Toothbrush and toothpaste
-Soap/shampoo (to save on your cost you can use hotel bottles/soaps that you've gathered from traveling)
-Trial size Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
-Hand or face lotion
Food Items: It's ideal if you have ready-to-eat protein rich snacks.
-Juice box or water bottle
- Cheese and crackers
- Power bar
- Tuna in a bag (no cans requiring an opener)
- Beef jerky
-Crackers with cheese or peanut butter
-Chef Boy R Dee cups
-Pack of gum
-One sweet item such as canned fruit or pudding
-Plastic utensils and napkin
-Coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)
-Pair of men's socks
-Small bible or bible tract
-Prepaid phone card
-Gloves/ knit beanie/scarf
-Resource list for the homeless
-Fast Food Gift Cards
-Hand-Written Prayers or Verses
We added a personal touch to each of ours by adding a note to each one. The notes varied a little bit for each one, but the main point we wanted to communicate was that Jesus loves them, they aren't forgotten and we hope the items we've included are a blessing to them that day.
Other ways to make it more personal/relevant to your area would be to include a business card to your local church where they may be able to get some further aid, information to local ministries that could be able to help them, a picture or note drawn/written by your child.
Another idea we've come across and really like is to keep several fast food restaurant gift cards in your car to hand out to homeless as well, we'll probably have a combination of both on hand.
What ideas have you come across to bless people with? I'd love to hear them!