Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Blessing bags for the homeless

Image from Joy's Hope
I was surfing around Pinterest, looking for ideas for our Faerie House for the festival at Zilker Park, when I came across a picture entitled "Blessing Bags".  I had to click in to see what that was about, and then click again to reach the blog post.

What I found was a post from KWAV (Kids with a Vision) about creating these blessing bags to give to the homeless. Homelessness is HUGE here in Austin, Texas, so I was immediately interested.

I've heard people talking about putting some snacks in bags, but this went further. As you can see in the picture, these included soap and Tynenol, toothpaste and deoderant, as well as some food.  It shouldn't feel revolutionary to me...I've done personal care bags for a couple of projects. But somehow, I didn't connect the dots. And I've worked with projects to provide food to homeless and in-need people for years.

Food + personal care items + some change + a bag = something to keep in the car to hand out.

The timing is perfect....

Last night, we were downtown for a walk with a group. My daughter and I stopped to admire a dog who was walking with two young guys -- one maybe in his late teens, one maybe about 20 or so. After petting the pup, the younger guy asked if we had some change we could spare for "a couple of street kids." My daughter apologized that she didn't...and he immediately responded.  "Don't apologize! You talked to us, like we were real people.  That matters a lot."  I wanted to cry. "Like we were real people."?  As though they were less than that??

I dug two one dollar bills out of my purse, and handed them to the younger guy.  He immediately gave one to his friend. They said thank you, and we said good-night and walked on.

After our stroll, we headed back to the car, and passed the same two young men. "Thank you so much again", the man said. "For everything."  My husband, who hadn't been with us earlier, asked why he had thanked us.

I explained.

"All that for a dollar," he asked?


All that for a dollar. And some friendly conversation with a couple of strangers.

How nice it would have been to have had a bag to hand them, with some snacks, some personal care things, and maybe one of those silver space blankets to ward off the chill. How nice it would be, when I stop to hand someone a few quarters at a stop light, to be able to add a bag to my gift.

So thank you, Pinterest...and KWAV, for inspiring me. I have some bags to make. (Want to make your own?  Here's my list of ideas!)

PS...The post where the picture came from suggested putting religious materials like tracts ot Bibles in the bags.  I am a very spiritual person, but I have a huge problem with mixing religion and basic needs like food and soap, so I won't be doing that. Just sayin'....

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