Homeless Helper Bags

Homeless Helper Bags
Fully packed Homeless Helper Bag. Image © Jessica Gardner.

If you're a longtime reader of Little Merry Sunshine, you may remember how last December I was inspired by my Facebook friend Scott to make meal bags and pass them out to homeless people. That activity was one of the best parts of my year of 100 new experiences because it reminded me how grateful I am for the abundance in my life and forced me to stop and see the humanity in people I too often simply walked by without actually seeing.

All year long, I've been collecting sample and travel sizes of personal care items and purchased a bunch of gloves at the end of last winter for 50¢ each. My efforts were assisted by my mom being in the hospital a couple of times where they gave her little bottles of things like deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, none of which she used and the fact that I stayed in a hotel a couple of times. I also asked family members to collect items for me when they stayed in hotels.

Tonight I took out all of these items and put together a couple of what I'm calling Homeless Helper Bags. They're simple to make and I'll pass them out tomorrow when I head downtown to hang out with The Woodlawn Wonder.

To make Homeless Helper Bags, you'll need any combination of:

  • gallon size resealable plastic bags (to pack everything in)
  • travel size body lotions
  • winter gloves
  • rubber gloves
  • bandaids
  • mouth wash, toothbrush, and toothpaste
  • tampons (for women)
  • soap
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • comb and brush
  • package of tissues
  • Pre-moistened towelettes
  • Pre-moistened bath cloths or baby wipes
  • travel size bottle of hand sanitizer
  • lip balm
  • granola bar
  • peanut butter crackers (or any crackers)
  • apple
  • peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • juice box
  • sweet treat like candy canes
  • gum
  • breath mints
  • individual fruit or pudding cups
  • gift card to a fast food restaurant (I like to give $5 cards when I can)
  • hand warmers to put inside gloves or foot warmers to put inside socks or shoes (you can buy them in smaller quantities than those in the link)

The above list is by no means all-inclusive of what could be included. Use your imagination to think about what items homeless people could use.

Homeless Helper Bag contents. © Jessica L. Gardner.

Homeless Helper Bag contents. © Jessica L. Gardner.

Whether you make these Homeless Helper Bags yourself and keep them in your car to pass out whenever you happen to see a homeless person or you make a bunch and head out on a quest to find people to give them to, this is a great activity that you can do either by yourself, with friends, or even with your kids. It's also a perfect way to kickoff 31 Days of Random Acts of Kindness (#31RAOK). It's also a great assignment for your Elf on the Shelf to give your kids.

Will you join me in making and passing out Homeless Helper Bags this winter?

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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