Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blessing Bags How To


Have you ever come across a homeless individual and felt totally uncomfortable?

You see them and you know they are in need, but you are not sure what to do. You know that handing them money is not the best thing. But, you also see that they clearly have some needs. Their lips are chapped. They are hungry. They are thirsty. They are asking for help.

How can you help?

Here is a simple idea - blessing bags.

[photo: joy's hope]

This was such an easy project. We are now going to keep a few "Blessing Bags" in our car so that when we do happen to see someone on the streets who is homeless, we can hand them a Blessing Bag. I first learned of these bags from my friend, Julie. I am using the picture of her bags (see above) because the ones we took were taken in horrible lighting and turned out really grainy and hard to see what is inside of them.

If you'd like to make your own Blessing Bags, this is what you would need:

Gallon size Ziplock bags
items to go in the bags, such as:
chap stick
packages of tissues
toothbrush and toothpaste
comb
soap
trail mix
granola bars
crackers
pack of gum
band aids
mouthwash
coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)
hand wipes
you could also put in a warm pair of socks, and maybe a Starbucks gift card

Assemble all the items in the bags, and maybe throw in a note of encouragement. Seal the bags and stow in your car for a moment of providence.

This would be a great activity to do with some other families. Each family could bring one of the items going into the bags (ex: toothbrushes). Set up all the items around a table and walk around it with the ziplocks and fill the bags.

280 comments:

  1. this is an awesome idea! I found this on pinterest :)

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    1. I found this on Pinterest too! This is such an awesome idea, I really want to do it!

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  2. So awesome, and giving people dignity!
    I'm going to do this! Thanks!

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  3. LOVE this idea! I found you through pinterest too. Just one suggestion, maybe along with the note of encouragement you could add a list of your local resources (like homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc) in case the person isn't from town and just got stranded. Then they know who to call in town for help.

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  4. I am so in love with this idea. I live in the country so we don't come across homeless people on a daily basis, but next time I go to the city I'm bringing a few of these.

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  5. This is a neat idea. You might want to do baby wipes instead of soap, though, since if they're living on the street they probably don't have a way to use the soap. (And I know baby wipes are a favorite of deployed soldiers who don't have showers.)

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  6. Great Idea!!! I would put the soap in another bag inside the gallon size bag since soap is pretty strong and could possible end up affecting the crackers and other snack items!!!

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  7. Love this idea, and will be making them with the littles. Thank you!

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  8. Awesome idea! I am going to make a few of these asap!

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  9. I saw this on Pinterest, also. I was so inspired by it, I posted about it on my fb page & asked friends to get involved. That has already blossomed into a fb page for my friends & community members to join together and hopefully pass out dozens (or hundreds) of Blessing Bags. My friends & I are all working-class folks, but I figured if I put out word now, we could put together lots of these by this holiday season. Of course, it would be ideal to be able to pass several out all year long!

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    1. Working-class doesn't mean you can't afford all of this stuff. A lot of it you can get at a dollar store!

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    2. Use coupons and you can even get most, if not all, of this stuff for free or pennies!!

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  10. Great idea! I want to put a small bible in the bag, and maybe an invitation to my church. These people may have never been able to experience God.

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    1. Why must there be this idea that because people are homeless they have never heard of, or experienced, God? Homeless folks are really some of the most proselytized to people because they are seen as "easy." God will not change their situation and believe that they have never received a bible, or heard of God, is a truly classist idea.

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    2. Good question, Andy. Here's where that idea comes from: If they're homeless, they are likely uneducated (therefore jobless) and alone. They may have substance abuse problems or psychiatric problems. Since Christians believe that a relationship with God is the solution to those problems, it's not that much of a stretch for a Christian to figure that someone in those dire straits may not know God. It's no different from assuming that someone who is sick or injured may benefit from being taken to the hospital.

      Homeless people are not "easy." They do stand to benefit the most physically, though. They need help, and a Christian knows they need more than physical help, and the Christian knows where they can get the help & wants to help them find it. There's nothing so horrible about that.

      I don't know why you say it's classist. A Christian is always looking for a reason to introduce anyone to God. You meet people at their point of need. It's just easy for everyone to see the point of need for a homeless person.

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    3. If they are a Christian, they may long for a Bible, too.

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    4. Not every church is out there to just spread the word of God. Some churches have programs to help with job opportunities, shelters in the area, and a more permanent solution to their situation if they would like it. Churches have their congregations to support them in the fact that they have all sorts of people with contacts in the community. Not every book is as it's cover states. Just sayin.

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    5. Just because people are homeless, doesn't mean that they are uneducated. There are some very educated and smart people out there on the streets. Maybe they are just broken. The body won't let them work. Don't judge, that is God's place to do!!!!

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    6. You are correct we3sew4u - some are well educated and yes, they are most likely broken. I don't see judgemental attitudes, I see someone who is not only looking out for (and wanted to help) their physical needs but their spiritual needs too. As Christians, we believe God can & does heal the brokenhearted -

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    7. I volunteered at a homeless shelter and most of the people there were highly educated and most were religious! Not all educated people are religious. Funny you would associate the two.

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    8. I have been making these bags for years and handing them to every homeless person I see who is asking for food or saying they are hungry. Mine don't include toiletries, only food items (more items than above, all nutritious and soft in case of poor teeth). EVERY SINGLE time I hand one out, I am told "God bless you." Across state lines, every homeless person I have encountered is either religious or faking it. I respectfully thank them for their blessing but tell them that I, as an atheist, am helping out of the goodness of my heart, not for blessings. I think it is more helpful to let the world know you can be good without a god than to proselytize to the vulnerable.

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    9. If the education you are referring to is 100% rationality based, then it is inversely proportional to religion (like others have said).

      Education equals time and capital (takes money to educate). So you'll notice that religion can also be inversely proportional to time and capital. When people are short on time, they will act out of "faith". If a country does not have enough money to put into their education system, religion will flourish. Religion thrives on ignorance and poverty.

      Basically, if you can't afford science and education, you'll have to settle for religion.

      Also, why not just do something nice for someone without wanting something in return from them? Help someone in need just for the sake of being a decent human being.

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    10. I'm not sure why you're equating knowing god with only going to church but that's pretty silly. It's great if you want to give them a bible but don't assume they don't have faith just because they're homeless.

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    11. Doni,Im sorry but thats about the dumbest thing I have heard in a while. "Basically, if you can't afford science and education, you'll have to settle for religion." How many physicians, lawyers, Presidents....People that are hugely wealthy, believe in God in some for or fashion. The Christian God gives people hope and a feeling of love. If someone is poor and has nothing at all, if they have HOPE, that gives them the drive to go on with life. It's the same for people that are wealthy. If they don't have hope or love, they are lost.
      Many homeless people are very smart and well educated. Mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, broken homes and families are what usually send the to the streets. They are the ones that are most likely to remain on the street. For people that have lost their homes and jobs due to this economy that we live in, they usually tend to bounce back with assistance. All people need hope and need to know that they are loved. Don't knock Christians for being out there wanting to help others. If you don't believe in God, that's your perogative.
      And if a person is handing these bags out randomly to homeless people, what exactly do you think they are wanting in return from these homeless people?

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  11. Thank you for this beautiful, thoughtful idea. I am anxious to do this!

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  12. Oh, and we get a lot of homeless folks with pets around here. I think sometimes they feed their "friend" before they feed themselves. I think I'll keep an eye out for dog food samples to keep in the car too.

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    1. That is a good idea! I would also add a small bottle of water instead of the juice.

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  13. This is such a great idea! I'm glad I found this. :)

    I will be sharing this on my blog with the direct link. :)

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  14. I have thought of keeping bags of crackers and bottled water in my car for such an occasion, but this is even better!

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  15. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!! I shared this on my blog too! Great feedback ideas as well!

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  16. I absolutely LOVE this idea. I rarely carry cash in my purse and my heart just breaks whenever I see someone suffering on the side of the street. This is the perfect solution! I am definitely making a bunch of these. Thank you so much for posting!

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  17. Found this on pinterest, and I think this is an awesome idea! Definitely will be buying things here and there make some of these!

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  18. Great idea....I do feel just that way. Want to help, but feel that money is not the best option. Gift cards to restaurants in the area alone, would even be a good option if you do not have a bag ready to go. Thank you...oh, and I found this on Pinterest as well :)

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    1. Every now and then, I pick up a $10 gift card to a fast food restaurant, especially one with $1/value menus. (I mean to do it every paycheck, but I have not been good about that. Some blessings have been coming my way and it's definitely time to get on the plan, though.) If I see someone with a sign and it touches me (not necessarily what's on the sign, just something about that moment and situation), I give the person a card for the closest fast food place. At least I know it's a place without alcohol and the person could choose carefully off the $1 menu and get 2-3 meals out of it. Or if the person is truly hungry right then, get the $10 of food s/he needs. Or a hot coffee in December, a cold soda in August, etc. Even if that person trades it with someone else for alcohol or cigarettes, at least someone in that chain is getting food.

      I think these blessing bags are a *great* idea, but the cards do take up less space and won't be ruined by extreme temperatures in the car.

      Also here via Pinterest, btw.

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  19. What a wonderful idea! I'd skip the mouthwash because of its high alcohol content and potential for abuse. I'll also add tokens/cards for mass transit.

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    1. There are lots of alcohol free mouth washes, and its an easy way for them to freshen up with. I would encourage mouth wash, but definitely the alcohol free kinds :)

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    2. What about Listerine strips?

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    3. Smart idea! Mints would be better than gum too because they help freshen breath where gum just permeates it.

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  20. I love all the suggestions that you guys have given. A dear friend of mine keeps new pairs of socks in her car with a loaded starbucks gift card tucked inside. I think that is another brilliant idea!

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  21. Lovely idea! I might also include a Mylar emergency blanket, which is inexpensive and compact.

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  22. We've been doing this in our family for a couple of years. We use paper bags though and the kids draw pictures on them. We call them "Goody Bags" like at a birthday party. lol...

    Inside we include a lot of the above things. We make sure to include warm socks in the winter and juice boxes in the summer.

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  23. Love this idea. We've actually had a homeless man stand at a corner we drive past pretty frequently, and I was just talking with my kids about what we could do to help him. Gotta go check out the pantry!

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  24. This is a terrific idea! I always feel so bad for the people sitting on the street corners, but I also know it's not a good idea to give them money. This would be the perfect solution. Thank you for sharing! I can't wait to start making my own!

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  25. This is a great idea! I'm going to have to make more of an effort to get freebies with my coupons so I can put some of these bags together. :)

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  26. Excellent idea. I have kept snack crackers to give away in the car but have not done a full bag of needed items. Thanks!

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  27. This is a great idea! It will allow us to give something when my kids ask "why the man is standing at the corner holding a sign?"

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  28. My husband is the director or a NP homeless shelter would you mind if I paced this idea onto him? You can check out their shelters new web page at www.covehouse.org.

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    1. Feel free to use this idea and share it as much as possible! Blessings!

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  29. This is awesome, we actually came up with this idea back in May. However, before we had all the items we needed we found out we were going to be moving. So we found a Christian shelter that rehabilitates homeless families, men & women and donated the stock pile we had accumalated so far for the bags.

    Once we get established in our new place we are going to get our stock pile back up to do this. We had basic personal care items, but love your friends idea of adding some foods to the pack.

    Also if we have any coupons for free meals, etc. those would be awesome to stash in the bags.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  30. I've thought of doing this but just never have. Your motivating me again! Maybe I'll get it done this time. :)

    One suggestion would be to get alcohol free mouthwash. I worked at a drugstore and know all too well how quickly people drink that stuff for a fix.

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  31. What a perfect idea! I hadn't thought about ways to bless the homeless among us. I will add this to my to-do list, especially since I can get a lot of these items for free or nearly free after coupons. I will mention this project on fru-gal.org. Keep these gracious ideas coming!

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  32. Thank you for this great idea! :)

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  33. I love, love, love this idea!! I saw it on Money-Saving Mom. I will definitely be doing this. We live in a rural area and don't see many homeless people, but we see them occasionally in town, and more often when we go to the big city nearby. Thanks for such a wonderful idea. I will certainly pass it on!

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  34. I love this idea! I see homeless people so often in the city! I am going to assemble some of these right away.

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  35. I found this idea on pinterest. This is amazing. Why did I never think of this??? What a God send idea, truly!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

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  36. I love this idea! Thank you for sharing it! I'm a social worker and see homeless people on a daily basis. I'll be sure to make some bags and pass along this idea!

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  37. I saw this on Pinterest too, and I think it's great! I also love the message of your blog: teaching our children to actively help others. Thanks!

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  38. Found this on Pinterest and have shared it everywhere I can think of. What a wonderful idea, thank you.

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  39. Thank you so much for posting this--look at all the people who have decided to make these bags and help others after reading your post! :) My family just moved to a new city and we see homeless individuals every day...I am so excited to make these bags to have handy! Will be making them ASAP. And I am loving all of the suggestions in the comments. I think I might add bottles of water. It gets pretty hot here and I think it could be useful. Thanks again!

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  40. We're going to do this too! I sometimes hand out granola bars or juice boxes (thing I already have in the car), but this is better! Also will include hand warmers in winter or a poncho.

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  41. Thinking of all of the little things (like clean teeth) that I take for granted...inspired to do this. So thankful I found this via pinterest!

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  42. I just made my first blessing bag! yay for the idea:) I was going to just keep canned food in my car to hand out...this is much better:) I can give a message of hope and a pen from my church:)

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  43. Is there a way to contact you? I don't want to post my email for just anyone to see me but you can find a link to my email on my blog.

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  44. What a brilliant idea! We will definitely keep a few of these bags in our car. I will post this blog entry in my fb. Hopefully more will be inspired by it. Thank you for sharing!

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  45. Deodorant has a tendency to melt and leak out of the top in a hot car. I would put that in a separate bag from everything else.

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  46. Found this on Pinterest! What a WONDERFUL idea! Will definitely be making and carrying these!

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  47. This is so wonderful! I'm going to make some up right away!

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  48. i love this! thanks for sharing!!!

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  49. Awesome! I found you through Pinterest & am now hoping to implement the creation of Blessing Bags at our church. If not, I'll definitely makes some on my own, as I never quite know what to do when I am stopped at an intersection where a homeless person is asking for aid. I want to help, but have been burned by giving my money and I rarely have spare food with me. This is a fantastic solution!

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  50. What a wonderful idea. Thank you so much.... Going to make my list and get started on this right away. Blessings to you!

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  51. Good bless you all for every bag you give, hugs Dominika

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  52. MOMtrepreneur Tip of the Day: Blessing Bags for the homeless
    http://barbarasbeat.blogspot.com/2011/10/momtrepreneur-tip-of-day-blessing-bags.html

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  53. I do this as well, but you've included some things I didn't think of - mostly the personal care items.

    I have a couple of additional things in my bags - in the winter, I include a bottle of gatorade (because it doesn't freeze) and a set of hand warmers. I also include a list of homeless resources in my city.

    I blogged about my bags here: http://inneedofcomfort.blogspot.com/2010/11/help-for-homeless.html

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  54. Thank you for sharing this WONDERFUL idea. I cannot wait to give the ones I am making out to those who need the BLESSING!

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  55. Thank you so much for this idea. I am going to take my two boys with me today to help make these to keep in our vehicle. Another idea might be the cheap hand warmer packets you can get. Maybe not just yet in our area but it will be getting cold soon.

    Such an amazing and simple thing to do. Thanks for sharing!

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  56. Brilliant idea!!!! Found this on pinterest, thank you for sharing!

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  57. I started doing this a few years ago with my kids...and the idea spread like wildfire in my area. One item that isn't in here that is super cheap and extremely helpful is a washcloth and if you include soap, an extra small baggie to keep it in once it has been used, that way they can keep it. I also included a bottle of water. If it melts it doesn't go in there because it is in a potentially really hot car. Way to go!

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  58. I love this idea! The other thing you could put in there are the instant foot warmers...you break them open and you can use them for your hands or your feet.

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  59. I just wanted to tell you that I also saw this on Pinterest and I think it's wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing with us so that we can share with others!

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  60. GREAT idea...!! I'm going to get my son involved, & put some together this week. I am also going to add some coconut water containers (the small juice box type) for extra hydration & health benefits. Thank you for sharing!

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  61. This is fantastic. I give out gatorade, but it's been on my heart recently to add something like clean socks and personal care items. Thanks for confirmation. It's time to step it up!

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  62. Powerful & motivating! A must do.

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  63. Brilliant! I totally just blogged to my family about this on our private site! Wonderful outreach project too!

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  64. This is a great idea. I might do this on thanksgiving after we eat. We usually go to a park where there are homeless people and to be able to give them something would be nice.

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  65. I absolutely LOVE this. I saw it on Pinterest & I'm working on a post for my blog, Toddling Around Chicagoland, about holiday giving. I hope you don't mind, but I plan to link to this post because I think it's a fantastic idea for involving kids in giving!

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  66. Originally saw this in a Dave Ramsey newsletter & stumbled here. I've got 6 in the car & handed out 2 today. I call'em Karma Bags. A few more items to include:

    - hotel toiletries
    - plastic utensil packs
    - dog food samples (found free at the local feed store)
    - reading material (skip the bible)

    Hope this helps. Keep on giving on! Peace.

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  67. yes, because homeless people need starbucks gift cards and gum... wow

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    1. i thought the same thing, so you're not alone there.

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    2. Why can't a homeless person chew gum for fresh breath and enjoy a good cup of coffee as a treat?

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    3. How is criticism helpful? Just curious?

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    4. You can't picture yourself homeless for just one moment and imagine how amazing it would feel to get a cup of Starbucks coffee or a pastry? And who doesn't like gum and enjoy the fresh breath it comes with?? Might even help some of them quit smoking for all we know! Sheesh, thanks for the negativity on such a wonderful site and a fantastic idea!!

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    5. Also, having a Starbucks card can get someone a warm place to sit and relax for a bit and enjoy a warm beverage...and it's not called loitering.

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  68. This is awesome. Putting this in the ziploc inside an unused backpack might be handy too. I have some from when my kids were in school. Would like to put them to good use.

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    1. I was actually going to suggest something like this, using a reusable bag or one of those foldable bags that Target sells. I'm fairly certain most dollar stores carry something like it. It could be useful for several things and it'll last longer than a plastic one!

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  69. my brother recently died. He was homeless at the time. I wanted to find a way to honor his memory. These bags will be a good step in that direction, thank you.

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    1. Michele -

      I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I have been thinking a lot about how we are called to help restore dignity to those who have hit hard times. I pray that you will be able to bless many people in honor of your brother.

      Blessings!

      Ali

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  70. this is a brilliant idea! thank you so much for sharing, i'm definitely going to do a bunch for the holiday-what an amazing way to lend a helping hand!

    xo

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  71. Absolutely fabulous idea! I have a weekly segment called "Change the World Wednesday." Would you mind if I shared this tomorrow or next week? www.Godwilladd.com

    Let me know. My email address is Shonda@Godwilladd.com.

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  72. this is so inspiring. I found you on Blair Fowler's video... Thank u for this

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  73. Blair Fowler mentioned you in her Youtube video :)Its so kind of you to do those blessing bags, it would be even cuter if they came in like little Christmas gift bags :)
    Love the idea and concept, so generous!

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  74. So many beautiful comments and then of course a couple of sour pusses. I WILL ONLY ADD A BIBLE AS READING MATERIAL, these people are usually homeless because of a tragedy in their lives, they definitely need God.

    Instead of one use foot or hand warmers, you can go to the dollar store and purchase gloves and socks.

    And Starbucks because there they can only get hot drinks or food, and yes gum because they can't always brush their teeth and chewing gum causes your mouth to water which rinses your teeth.

    Thank you for your beautiful idea I will definitely be doing this.

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    1. Why can't you do something good for your fellow man because its the right thing to do? Why is it used as an opportunity to push your religion on those in a bad situation? I'm looking for smaller type reading material & crosswords to put in my bags- not something to proselytize with. Not knowing what personal religious beliefs (if any) a person has, handing out religious material doesn't sit well with me.

      Your other ideas are bang on, though! :)

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    2. Helping is helping, why criticize her spin on it? I doubt a hungry person in need of a bath will have a problem with religious material. They will be so excited that a person cared enough to help them...We as a people have got to stop this negativity..

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    3. Why must there be this idea that because people are homeless they have never heard of, or experienced, God? Homeless folks are really some of the most proselytized to people because they are seen as "easy." God will not change their situation and believe that they have never received a bible, or heard of God, is a truly classist idea.

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    4. I take offense at this idea that the homeless are somehow Godless. I spent the vast majority of my childhood homeless. My parents were quite educated and deeply religious. Do you know why we became homeless? Because my parents chose to pray and tithe rather than work! They had plenty of God, but not enough money or common sense. It's really condescending and quite rude. I can understand if you think the bible would comfort those who are Christians, but to act as if the rest are merely unchurched is quite judgmental.

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  75. I also found you through Blair. This is a great idea and I'm starting mine today!

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  76. Wonderful idea and one that my daughter and I are excited to implement. Purple Pinwheels, I agree with you and plan to add outreach material.

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  77. I will be doing this! Thank you for the idea! I got this idea from otherjuicystar07's video on youtube which led me here!

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  78. I think this is a great idea. Just one comment. I work at a detox center and a large portion of homeless individuals have trouble with alcohol and drugs. Don't include mouthwash. A lot of people drink it. It sounds horrible, but very true and very sad. Also don't include hand sanitizer.

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  79. Great idea and what an easy way to show someone you care. Thanks for sharing

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  80. In one city we lived in, a certain Christian ministry made tokens that provided for a free bus ride to their ministry and there they would take the homeless in, feed and clothe them, help them with detox if they were on drugs, provide counseling and Bible study and help them find work--

    That way you could give them something that could really change their lives and not be worried about being an enabler by giving them money that they might use for drugs/alcohol etc.

    I love this idea also--awesome!!

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  81. A very good idea! I think if you put a list of the local shelters in the area with the address and phone numbers might help also.

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  82. I've been doing this for about a year. I now actually am glad when I see a homeless person b/c I have a tangible way to help where before I always cringed b/c I wanted to avoid a situation I didn't know how to handle well. We call ours "Needy Food Bags" but I think I'm going to switch to "Blessing Bags." Ours averages about $4 a bag and we go through about 10 a month - I like the idea of going together with other families as it enables you to be able to offer more! My 4 year old enjoys helping me put the bags together and it certainly fits the saying "More is caught than taught!" A great way of putting faith into action! (James 2)

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  83. I absolutely LOVE it!!! Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

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  84. thank you so much for the inspiration. I just put this on my high schools facebook page asking for my fellow students to help out. We dont live in an area with many homeless people but i think that if we can raise enough, we could possibly send some to somewhere more needy. i think this is really a great idea. and the baby wipes comment was good thinking- my dad is a truck driver and he uses them all the time to get the dirt off of his face. they work wonders. thanks again for the motivation- its a great idea. :)

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  85. Such a thoughtful and kind idea! I agree with no mouthwash because of the alcohol content and a very limited amount of money. I love the idea of phone numbers and directions to shelters, detox or rehab centers or any other organizations available to help someone.
    Other different suggestions I would include that can be gotten for free or at the Dollar Store.
    - Toiletries from the hotel you have stayed in
    - plastic rain poncho or large heavyweight garbage bag
    - those extras from takeout - cutlery, napkin, hand wipes, condiments
    - facecloth or small towel
    - pkgs of cup-a-soup, coffee and tea
    - collapsible drinking vessel for easy storage
    - whistle so they can call for help if necessary
    - small first aide kit
    - any of the small travel sized items you can buy.

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  86. Hello ladies. Like many others, I ran across this fantastic idea on Pinterest. I, of course, repinned your picture but I also shared a link to this post on my Facebook page Coups For Troops.
    We collect and ship expired manufacturer coupons for military families stationed overseas. (They can use them up to 6 months past the expiration.) Since my folks have a passion for helping those in need, I knew this was a great thing to share with them.

    Please contact me if y'all would like to do an expired coupon drive in your area.
    http://coupsfortroops.com

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  87. I plan on getting a bunch of friends and family together to make bags for around 500 when we go feed the homeless. Great idea. I have never thought about this.

    We have a diy, fashion, and cooking blog anyone interested in these things should check out.
    hello-bello.blogspot.com

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  88. Saw on Coups for Troops FB page. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and re-posted via my Facebook! <3

    (Pinterest has yet to send me an invite, lol)

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  89. I don't know if someone has already mentioned this, but when I was in high school we had a backpack drive. People donated new or gently used backpacks, totebags, knapsacks, etc and we put the items in there. They can be used to hold many things and they last a lot longer than a ziplock bag.

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  91. or you could just give them money. if that's what they're asking for, who are you to decide that you know better?

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    1. James - first, I just have to say that RARELY do we carry cash to be able to hand money out the window to someone, even if we wanted to.

      Second - I worked downtown for many years and saw hundreds of homeless people. Just as an example, I witnessed one person who went and bought the homeless guy standing on the corner an entire bag of KFC. She handed it over to him, and he promptly walked over to the street trash can and threw it away. If these people want to drink and spend what little cash they get on alcohol/drugs/whatever their vice is, that is their choice. It may not be up to me what is "better" for them, but it IS up to me how I spend my hard earned money. I would rather give them something that might be useful/helpful to them. And if they don't care to use it, then maybe they will pass it on to someone that will. Personally, I will do what I'm about to suggest below for this exact reason.

      To everyone else: another idea is to donate bags like this to homeless shelters and/or soup kitchens for them to distribute to those that come in seeking shelter and food.

      I do love this idea. I love the idea of helping people. Unfortunately, after years of being exposed to homeless people on a regular basis, I've become a bit jaded. I will say that my son and I scrounged every bit of change out of my car one day that we could find to help a family that was in the parking lot of a local grocery store (out by the traffic lane) holding up a sign. It was the parents and two children. I felt bad for them and wished that I could do more. This may not have been much but at least it would have been something.

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    2. Just like you said about the person that received food and thew it away, a family member went through the similar situation and i agree with you 100%!! alot of them want just money but they use that for alcohol and drugs and so forth. I'd rather give them food and things they can use that to just hand out money

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  92. Thank you so much for posting this idea! My dad commutes to NYC everyday and my mom often brings him sandwiches to give to homeless people. I am a teacher at a Catholic School on Long Island and this post gave me the inspiration to work with my students to make some blessing bags! My student council kids will be organizing the collection of the bags and supplies and we will be asking parents who commute to bring one or two to homeless people that they may meet. We are so excited to start! Thanks again for sharing!
    ☼Kate
    To The Square Inch

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  93. Very inspiring! Found you on Pinterest also... and so glad I did! I'm now following your blog. Keep up the awesome work!!

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  94. Found this on Pinterest and as a Soldier that has been blessed with many care packages I will say that minty gum and soaps tend to lend thier sents and flavors to other foods in the bags. I am not homless and infact make pretty good money but I feel uncomfortable in Starbucks sometimes because I feel it is stuffy. I think that your well meaning gesture of a small denomination gift card to SB could go unused because of the same kind of feelings. Maybe a reusable insulate mug and some SB VIA's that they could use with some hot water from somewhere or even in cold water. Just a thought but this is a wonderful idea!

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    1. You make a very good point with this. While some wouldn't care and just walk in for a cup of joe, plenty of people do care about the "stuffiness" of a SB. Maybe a thermos like you said, along with a giftcard to a convenience store like circle K or QT would be a better fit. :)

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    2. I myself am a temp/stay at home mom and do not feel comfortable going into SB's. It is intimidating to me and overpriced, although tasty. McDonald's would be usable in my area, many homeless loiter waiting for handouts there anyhow. Love this idea and can't wait to start with my 3 yr. old.

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  95. I loved this blog so much that I posted it on my own blog today. Here is my blog... http://rhondagibson.blogspot.com/2012/02/blessing-bag.html God Bless you and keep up the good work.

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  96. I absolutely LOVE this idea!!! Me and my family made care packages this last Christmas with some of these items and went downtown and they were handed out to the homeless. But whenever i am driving to and from places i see many homeless people waiting on the side of the road, i for one do not like giving money, and if i have a new bag of chips, chocolate or soda/water in my car, i hand that out. Im so glad i came across this on Pinterest, this is my new project im going to do, i gotta start making these "Blessing Bags"

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  97. My meet-up group is going to get together and make these bags! What a great idea!!! Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. That is so great, Amanda! Tons of people have suggested using alcohol free mouthwash. :)

      Blessings! Ali

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  98. I have worked with the homeless in Detroit through several organizations and this is wonderful!
    Two thoughts, though: the fruit cups are the way to go. Many homeless men and women do not have the dental strength to eat a ripe apple or pear- they simply cannot bite into it.

    One organization I worked with was very careful not to include items that could be traded for drugs. The gloves and socks are a great idea, but gift cards may not end up serving the purpose you intended.

    Great idea, keep the blessings going!

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  99. this is a wonderful idea and I have not read all the comments so I'm not sure if it's been suggested but you could even put some juice packets or little water bottles in it or those hand/foot warmers you can get at Walmart. Especially if you live in a colder area or it's winter time. :)

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  100. Love, love, love this. I just spoke to my six year old and he is excited to start this project. We live just outside of Chicago so lots of homeless people on the streets of downtown. I will say that one time a homeless man was begging for money for food. I was on my way into taco bell so I bought a bunch of tacos for him. When I came out, I gave him the tacos and a few dolllars since I didn't know what he would want to drink. He was so thankful, walked in taco bell, purchased a soda and ate his food and drank his drink inside the restaurant. All his wanted was some food in his belly and a warm place to sit for a few minutes. We don't have much, but we have so much compared to so many others. Thank you for this inspiration.

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  101. I'm excited to do this with the women at our women's retreat this year. We'll be giving any extra bags to local churches and food pantries. My husband is a pastor and although we live in a small town, he frequently has homeless folks come to the church seeking various kinds of aid. I've been reading "Under the Overpass" by Mike Yankoski and this fits right in!! Excellent book if you want a better perspective on how to reach out to those in dire straights. Thanks for the encouragement to get out of our comfort zones and actually practice being the hands and feet of Christ!

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  102. wow....this is a great idea...

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  103. Found this on pinterest:) Doing it tonight with my three kids:)

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  104. The only thing I don't understand would be including a gift card for Starbucks. Homeless people don't need to worry about $5 cups of coffee. A card for somewhere like Wal-Mart, Wendy's, or Aldi would be way more appropriate.

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  105. Such an excellent idea - thank so much for sharing!

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  106. All good ideas and suggestions. Other items could include:

    Feminine Hygiene products
    Vitamin C lozenges or Echinacea tea (to help immune systems)
    Antibiotic ointment
    Foods high in protein (such as nuts or jerky)
    Baby wipes
    Small bottles of water or Gatorade (anything to stay hydrated)

    It's amazing how many people are so ready and willing to help each other. Remember, when people are at their worst, that is when they need love the most. "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted," Aesop.

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  107. I found you on Pinterest and am so excited to do this in my city. But I'm commenting b/c I noticed that my Pin of this post had been repinned over 50 times in two days with lots of likes. My pins only get repinned once or twice normally. I just thought that was pretty cool. :)

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  108. Saw this on Pinterest. We do something similar where I work. One lady puts out baskets on each floor of our building and collects the hotel toiletries that our employees bring back after they travel. She has donated over 150 pounds of trial sized shampoos, soaps, toothbrushes, mouthwash, and other items to our local homeless and battered women's shelters. She calls it "share your travel.". I use an electric toothbrush, as does my husband, so we collect the free toothbrushes from our dentist to donate.

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  109. This is awesome!! I agree with replacing soap with baby wipes. It seems easier to use and transport. I would also recommend putting in sunscreen, and or lotion. I see so many homeless people who are sun burnt to a crisp! Thank you for posting this! I am now so inspired, and will get to making these right away!!

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    1. Use soft foods! Homeless people often have painful teeth.

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  110. My husband and I have plans to do this but will not include mouthwash. My cousin who is a recovering alcoholic said mouthwash is not a good idea since some will drink it. He drank mouthwash to get a buzz while in a boarding house. Just thought I'd mention it for your consideration. Thank you for sharing this great idea!

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  111. This idea is amazing.!! My boys and I have been carrying and handing out these bags for about 2 months. It is wonderful for them to be aware even at their young ages (6 and 4) that even if it is something small, we can make our corner of the world a little better, and that they need to be aware of people around us that are less fortunate.

    A couple of tips: Don't be surprised if you become a little emotional the first couple of give-aways. Especially to the people who you can tell are truly thankful. Don't be surprised if you start giving bags to people who know someone to whom you have given a bag.

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    1. Use soft foods! Homeless people often have painful teeth.

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  112. Found this on Pinterest! I going to plan a get together with some friends so that we can make these. This is a fantastic idea!!!!

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    1. Use soft foods! Homeless people often have painful teeth.

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  113. This is great! BUT!!! My mom pointed out that many homeless people have sore teeth- pack soft foods! (Ie Granola Bars might not be the best.)

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  114. This would be an awesome thing for those 'extreme coupon' people, who hoard up lots of these products but never really do anything with them!

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  115. I just came across this post on Pinterest and Love it! My sister made 10 bags at Christmastime with my 5 yr old son. Both of our boys love to watch out for someone who could use a little pick-me-up. They always get big a big "Thank You" or "God Bless You" when they pass the bag through the car window. Thanks for sharing!

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  116. Ok just gotta say it...A gift card to Starbucks? Ummm you could give them a gift card to Mc Donalds for the same price and they could have coffee, plus something to eat.

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    1. Hell yeah! McDonalds is a much better choice than Starbucks.

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    2. Every Starbucks sells food as well, including some options that are less expensive. And the food is a lot more wholesome than most of the "fast food" places. I know. I used to work at Starbucks in the DC area and even $5 could get someone a cup of drip coffee and bagel w/cream cheese or large whole-grain muffin. Since I have left there, they have devised bargain menus including coffee and one of their breakfast sandwiches including egg, ham, bacon or sausage, cheese on English Muffin. I worked the early morning shift and saw more homeless people than most people will see in a lifetime. If you can walk past them each day and not feel lucky for everything you have, you are one hard-hearted person.

      I love the idea of the bags and I know that most people would be very happy to get them.

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  117. I posted this on FB and am already getting likes on it. One my FB friends suggested looking for a more utilitarian & reusable container than the ziploc bag. I came up with this: an inexpensive, insulated foldable lunch bag! Sometimes you can get them really cheap at places like the dollar store, big lots, even Target's dollar sale section. Just another contribution to help somebody :)

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    1. I know the reuable shopping bags at TJ Maxx are .99 and HUGE! that might be a good idea

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  118. Uhm I'm not a Christian, but I so totaly love this idea! Very very cool to do this of you and thanks for sharing it. Also maybe it helps to keep in mind homeless people have to carry everything along, so when you put goods in there it may be helpful to make them very lightweight.

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  119. Thanks sharing this Idea, it is such a great idea for couponers to do with all there excess stockpile.

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  120. As a piggy back....when you travel, as my husband does for work, take all your hotel toiletries and donate them to your local shelter. The individual sizes are perfect to give to the residents. I collect from my coworkers and bring them to the shelter my church team cooks for twice a year. I put reminders on Facebook right before I go and right before the summer vacation season starts and usually have a couple good sized bags to bring in.

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  121. Great idea and I plan to make some. I would refrain from mouthwash and money. Many of these folks have alcohol addictions and may be inclined to drink mouthwash as a substitute. I have heard that AA does not recommend giving cash to homeless folks as they may buy alcohol, but nearby fast food or coffee gift cards would be better.

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  122. Pinterest brought me here. I think this is an AMAZING idea!
    I've lived in Phoenix for 7 years and I've bought food for some homeless people but I've always wished I could do more with out handing out cash. I'll definitely be keeping one of these in my car. :)

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  123. I love this idea and am going to start keeping these in my car as well, with the monsoon season upon us especially. I just thought I'd add a fork or spoon. Very cool idea, thank you.

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  124. Thanks! Saw this on pinterest and created a playdate meetup with 5 familys so we can make a bunch!

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  125. I too found this idea on Pinterest and Pinned it from someones page.

    It's a great idea!

    I have to tell you all that on Wednesday morning I went to the post office and I met a man who came around the corner from the door as I was going to it. I could tell that the heat was getting to him and he asked if I had "2 quarters for the bus ride in this heat so he wouldn't have to walk home." I asked him "Was that all it cost?" and "He said yes." So I gave him two quarters and he thanked me and went on. Just giving him that made me feel good knowing I helped someone. I could tell he wasn't as old as me but still with the heat as bad as it's been I wouldn't have wanted to walk home either and would have been grateful for two quarters. Giving to help others is a great thing, no matter what it is and they will appreciate it very much.

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  126. I`m not in a great financial state to hand out a lot of these. I`m 18 years old and don`t make a lot of money at the moment but you`ve inspired me to do this! I think I`m going to try and get a group of people to do this in downtown Toronto. I`m speaking to someone who has a business and would know how to get a real operation running. Thank you for this!

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  127. There is a lady at my moms church that makes candles in small tins (tuna cans, cat food cans etc) to give to homeless people. Even a little bit of light and warmth is better then none.

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  128. Hi there! I am the one who originally wrote the Blessing Bags post which was featured on my friend Julie's blog, Joy's Hope. Thank you so much for sharing it. Because of your post, the idea is being spread in many ways. It's humbling to get a small glimpse of what God can do with our small offerings. Hugs to you.

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  129. This is a lovely idea, my friends and I are students but we have decided to get a group of us together and make as many as possible and then drop them off at the local homeless shelter. If everyone does a small bit we can make a big difference.

    Christina
    thephoenixpages.blogspot.com

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  130. I really think this is what all those "Extreme Couponers" should be doing that you see on TLC. I feel MANY of them "hoard" all the things they get so very cheap or free. Who needs 1,000 tubes of toothpaste? Give them to the needy! Or send them to the troops!

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  131. I am doing this with our church and I put it on my blog! Thank you for this FANTASTIC idea!

    Cindy (mommyseverday.blogpot.com)

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  132. I'm thinking of adding a reusable water bottle and bag. I am going to get my Cub Scouts to do these for our local shelter!

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  133. I am sharing this with my daughter's youth group. Many have just come back from a mission trip working with inner city homeless in Atlanta and are looking for ways to reach out to our local homeless. This is just phenomenal. Going to read through all of the comments, too, for additional ideas. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Jenny

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  134. bus tickets - - this is a big need for marginalized people - it can help them get to a shelter or a food bank or to health care. It's cheaper to buy a sheet of tickets (about 10) than to pay cash fare.

    I live AND work in a downtown area, with quite a bit of panhandling, as well as buskers. I try to have fruit on hand -- bananas are nice for people who have dental issues (few or no teeth)

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  135. What a nice idea! I noticed that your friend's bag includes an applesauce and a fruit cup, I can't tell if she already included them, but it would be helpful to include a plastic spoon and fork for those items.

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  136. I found this on pintrest and it's an amazing idea. I've been looking for projects me and my kids can do and they would love this. To be able to pick out the stuff and to assemble them. I'm going to add pocket flash lights and an extra battery for safety at night. Thanks for the idea. I'm passing it along.

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  137. I save all my freebies for my brother and sister-in-law who are both in the military.

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  138. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL THING TO DO...HOW AWESOME IS THIS?????..I COMMEND YOU FOR THIS GREAT IDEA!!!!!

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  139. Interesting how some people take a great idea like this and find something to criticize. The fact remains that they are homeless regardless of what their station was when they became homeless. Concentrate on that. This would be a great idea for our ladies group at church who are looking for projects. You are to be commended. Great idea.

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  140. This is an amazing idea! I live in a small town so I don't see too many homeless people who truly need somthing like this. But I always feel bad when I do, because I don't have anything to give them. Now I will! Thank you!!

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