As a mom, I am always looking for ways to involve my young children in community service, but many of the volunteer opportunities in our area are for teens and adults rather than families.
My heart aches for those who are homeless and standing on the side of the street holding a sign asking for help, especially during the bitter-cold winter months. Each winter, we host a get-together with friends and we spend an afternoon creating dozens of Blessing Bags, enough that every adult can keep a few in the car to pass out.
To ensure we have a variety of items, I create an online form using SignUp Genius so each person can simply choose what they would like to bring and how much. Many friends have been unable to attend the gathering but have still supplied some of the items to fill the bags. Here are a few of the items we try to include:
- Shampoo, lotion, and soap (friends who travel a lot collect these throughout the year)
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste (check with your dentist for extras)
- Lip balm and deodorant (watch for sales, or pick up a few from the trial-size section)
- Hand warmers (wholesale club stores sells them in bulk this time of year)
- Warm socks (clean pairs can be purchased at thrift stores for cheap)
- Protein bars (buy in bulk)
- Fruit cups and spoons (buy in bulk)
- Bottles of water (buy in bulk)
This is a really simple project in which even toddlers can participate by placing an item in a zippered bag. Involving several families means the financial cost is smaller for everyone ... but the spiritual and emotional reward is larger. My boys and I get to spend an afternoon with people we love feeling grateful for what we have. And hopefully, the recipient of each bag is comforted by the fact that some people cared enough to share their blessings.