Blessing bags are bags of supplies that are given to men or women who are homeless. They usually consist of small snacks, water bottles, small articles of clothing, and hygienic items. The point is to go out of your way to reach out to someone in need and show them you care about their safety and health.
I got the idea of having a cooperative blessing bag event from a friend who attempted a similar thing a couple years ago. She asked for contributions and put the bags together herself. We moved into a big home last September and now I look for many excuses to host people. That’s how the party aspect came along.
I created a simple Facebook event and linked a supply sign up sheet to it. I made a simple one on Google Sheets. Here’s a sample, if you would like one. (Make sure you set it up so anyone with the link can EDIT).
I did some research on what the homeless really could use to create my supply list. Here is a great resource I found on what people who are homeless prefer to be given.
The actual party was very simple! I set up some folding tables and put out containers that could hold everyone’s contributions. I also set out paper and pens so everyone could write an inventory (this seems to be a popular thought so the receiver of the bag doesn’t have to rifle through it to see what’s in it. I also included a small note on the back of mine because who doesn’t need some kind words?
I threw out some chips, veggies, and dip on the table, put out some drinks, and called it good. The purpose of the party wasn’t to throw a big shindig, but to come together to create gestures of love for others. We had kids running around laughing, we had a sweet newborn that got passed around to steal our hearts, and there ended up being a competitive darts game at the end. It was a wonderful time and I hope that we all truly bless the receivers of our bags.
Now, a question that floated around the room was how to pass out the bags. It’s really up to the giver. You can give them out when you pass people in your car, you can visit a soup kitchen around mealtimes, or you can ask your local homeless shelter if they have advice for you on who could use them. I think the main point is that if you have done the preparation, God will present an opportunity for you. Someone who attended the party told me that she was wrestling with the idea and was convinced that she didn’t see homeless people in her area so she didn’t need to do it. Then she saw three people in the following days on her normal route!
I live in an area with 343 people living homeless (stat taken from my local paper). We have several wonderful shelters, but they are not long-term solutions. In my average American city, we have 10 unsheltered individuals and 7 unsheltered families. While Michigan’s homeless rate has decreased, my area’s population has increased in the last year by almost 50 people.
All of that to say, the needy are there. While I don’t see them everyday and while I usually am not able to stop in the areas where they live, I know I have done my part to be ready for when I do meet someone. When God puts someone in my path, it is now on me to take the time to stop, give, smile, and listen.
I encourage you all to be informed about the homeless situation in your area and donate what you can (clothes, food, time, money) to your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. I complain a lot about being cold in my house or being “starving”…how shameful of me when I have so much, to think of others so little.
Thanks to all my participants! I’m so sorry to not get any pictures of the actual event, I had too much fun putting these bags together with everyone.
“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:40