How to Make “We Care” Bags

This fall, we made bags to hand out to the homeless we see each week. Six families volunteered supplies. Our children drew colorful pictures on the bags. Then we filled 36 bags with personal items. We drive with a bag stashed in the front seat, ready to hand out the window.

I look at parents begging at street corners and they have my heart. It’s difficult to disassociate from them. Rather than sending money away to charities that help from afar, I hand it out the window a few dollars at a time. I know, she might spend it on drugs or liquor. Her ultimate use of the money is not mine to know. I am giving it away, and in that moment I am helping – both with my intentions and with letting my kids see these people. They are not invisible. The poor are real, and they need more than our pity.

This is the most hands-on way I’ve found for my kids to contribute.

“We Care” Bags for the Homeless

These bags can be expensive, though it’s not necessary to include everything. I invited three other families to join in, including the list of possible giveaway items below, and asked each family to choose one or two things to buy.

Possible bag items:
Body soap and washrag
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Razor and shaving cream
Lip balm
Hand warmers
Granola or protein bars
Sanitizing hand wipes
Bags of nuts
Crackers or other lightweight snacks
Beef jerky
Warm socks
Beverages – shelf-stable protein drinks

It cost close to $40 per family through bulk buying, and we ended up with 36 bags. That’s a cost of $4.40/bag, often less than I’d offer from my window.

Gather in a park and encourage the kids to decorate the bags. Ours chose crayoned rainbows and wrote “We care about you!” on most bags. Let the kids divide the items into heavy-duty paper sacks (leftover paper grocery bags work well). Split the bags up, so each family takes home an even amount (it’s MATH!).

Hand them out with a big smile!

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