Practicing random acts of kindness and charitable giving has always been important to me. Teaching my children compassion for others is just as important to me. I look for age-appropriate ways to include my children in caring for our community.
Our family has a long tradition of making blessing bags for the homeless this time of year. We’ve been making homeless care packages as a family since my children were as young as three years old.
Making care packages using these simple blessing bag ideas is a wonderful family or group activity to teach children to take action to care for others in their community.
Teaching children to think about and care for others can be challenging. Addressing the issues around homelessness is daunting for adults, let alone children. But we can all understand being hungry. Making blessing bags for the homeless is a great way to encourage compassion in even young children in a way that they can understand.
We usually make our blessing bags on Thanksgiving day. We set up stations in the living room with each blessing bag item. Our children “trick or treat” around the living room. They stop at each station and fill their bag with the items.
The adults hand out the items and supervise so that each bag is filled completely with all the items. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and a great opportunity to discuss each item and why it was chosen for the care packages. My children and I look forward to making blessing bags each year. It’s a treasured family tradition.
Blessing Bag Ideas
Snack Items – Look for individually packaged snack items that are filling.
- Granola Bars
- Cheese or Peanut Butter Crackers
- Cereal Bars
Protein – Add individually packaged shelf-stable protein items.
- Protein Bars
- Tuna Packets – Choose options that don’t require a can opener.
- Canned Meat- Choose options that don’t require a can opener.
- Peanut Butter – Individual, one-serving packets or containers. Packets are preferable. Include a knife if adding a container.
Fruit or Vegetable Snacks – Shelf-stable fruit or veggies are the best choices
- Applesauce – Squeeze packets are better. Include a spoon if adding a container.
- Dried Fruit
- Fruit Leather
- Dried Veggies
- Veggie Snacks
Drinks – One or more individual shelf-stable drink options.
- Water – Everyone can drink water and it’s resealable.
- Fruit Juice – Choose easy-to-open containers.
- Vegetable Juice Mixes – Choose easy-to-open containers.
Candy or a Treat – Everyone appreciates a treat in their day.
- I prefer to add hard candy or lollipops. They are a sweet treat in addition to helping with sore throats and freshening breath.
- Choose individually wrapped treats.
Gift Card or Cash – Add money or a gift card to a local establishment with a value of approximately $5 to $10.
- In addition to providing a meal, this allows the recipient the pleasure of choosing their meal and drink.
- It provides access to a heated or air conditioned chair and table.
- It also provides access to the bathroom. It can be difficult for the homeless to find a bathroom to use and to use to wash up without first making a purchase at a store or restaurant.
Add a Note
The difference between a blessing bag and institutional assistance is the personal connection. Be sure to make that personal connection by adding a note to every bag you make.
If you are making blessing bags with children, have the children draw a picture or write a note to include in each bag. Nothing is more encouraging than a colorful drawing or a heart-felt note from a child. If the child is writing a note, give them some guidance on what to say (and not to say).
If you’d prefer, you can download this free Blessing Bag Note printable to add to your care packages.
Click this link to download/print the lunch notes — Blessing Bag Ideas Notes
- Individually wrapped, single-serving items are best.
- Choose easy-to-open items that do not require a can opener.
- Choose resealable items, if possible.
- Add plastic utensils if they’re needed for any items.
- Choose easy-to-chew items. Some homeless deal with dental issues.
- Choose colorful packaging to brighten someone’s day.
- Add a napkin or cleaning wipe.
- Always add a personal note.
- Place the contents in a zippered plastic bag. This keeps everything sanitary and the bag can be used once the contents are consumed.
These blessing bag ideas are great for donating to a local homeless shelter. You can also keep several in your car and hand them out when you meet someone in need. You can find more ideas for homeless care packages and blessing bags here.
The intention of making a blessing bag to care for someone in need in your community – to bless them. You’ll find that your family is also blessed by making these homeless care packages.
More Random Acts of Kindness
This post is day 10 in a 30-day Random Acts of Kindness series. See all of the posts, plus other RAOK ideas and resources by clicking the image below.