I had heard about them, but didn't really think twice about them until about a month (or two) ago when I was tagged in a post on Facebook by a friend, Bonnie J., that linked to an article on the topic. Unfortunately, I am not able to find that exact article at this time. I will put links at the bottom of this post to other articles.
After reading the article and several other articles on the topic, I put together a shopping list and started shopping. My goal was to put together 10 bags. Family Dollar was a great place to buy items in bulk. I also bought items at Target and Bi-Lo. I was able to maximize my dollars by using coupons, watching for sales, and getting lucky.
There are many helpful items that can go in the ziploc gallon bags, but only so much can fit. My goal was to make sure there was protein, something to drink, something sweet, something to keep warm with, something practical, a note of encouragement, enough food for at least one day.
Here is what ended up in the bags my daughter and I put together :
- small packet of tissues
- piece of chocolate
- packet of tuna
- small can of beanie weanies (pop top opener)
- Luna protein bar
- pack of peanut butter crackers
- small water bottle
- juice box
- packet of fruit snacks
- beanie hat/toboggan
- small box of toothpaste
- packet of plastic utensils with napkin
- packet of hand warmers
- note of encouragement
I first went out on December 23rd with Robin and Tony to deliver these bags. We were able to deliver 6 of them that day. I wrote a little about that day's experience in a previous blog post, "Hobo--contemplating the meaning of a word" on December 31, 2014.
Going out that day with Robin and Tony was a great blessing. I learned that anything that is in a cup-type container to which hot water can be added is great. (That reminds me that the oatmeal bowls are on sale this week, 10 for $10 at Bi-Lo.) Robin mentioned that anything you would put in your own lunch bag or your kids' lunch bag is good to put in the lunch bags they give out on Fridays. It helps to have the food accessible (pop tops, etc.) Robin said that socks are always a great item to give because they can be used for many things. I hope to learn more from Robin.
Here are some pictures of the bags:
|note of encouragement|
Yesterday, I was able to give a bag to a woman who was walking around the mall area. I felt a "nudge" to ask her if she could use one of the bags or if she knew someone who could use one. I tried to ignore the nudge because one can seem slightly crazy approaching someone on foot when you are in a car and asking such a bizarre question. I had observed her walking from the time I left Starbucks to the time I had neared the mall. The nudge wouldn't leave me. She smiled and accepted the bag.
Maybe you have heard of these ziploc gift bags too. Consider going in with others to put them together. Check out some of the articles for ideas. I have also heard of folks putting together sock packs in which they stuff socks with items and tie the socks together. (You can be creative in what can fit in a sock or research what others have done.)
If not ziploc gift bags or sock packs, what is something on your heart and mind to do for others? If you don't mind, would you share what you're doing?
Blessings on your journey!
P.S. Several of the folks we delivered these gifts bags to in December are currently off the streets and in rehab and/or getting help in other forms. I realize that gift bags aren't the solution, but I do know that if someone is hungry and cold, food and warmth is a welcome interim. Let's all continue to do what we can in the short run and the long run to help our neighbors.
Links to articles about Ziploc Gift Bags:
Make Hygiene Kits for the Homeless by Jamie Littlefield
Blessing Bags--Keep on Hand for those in need or donate-- PLUS a printable checklist
Blessing Bags from Kids with a Vision