The Bible has a lot to say about helping the needy. Jesus tells us that helping others in need is equivalent to helping Him. And by not helping others we are not helping Him and there’s a pretty hefty price to pay for that (Matthew 25:35-46). The Bible also says that there are those angels who are “undercover” so to speak and that we would do well to be hospitable towards those who cross our path, because one of them might just be an angel (Hebrews 13:2).
These are just a few examples. But the Bible is pretty clear: we are to help those in need if we have something that can help them (Proverbs 3:27-28). And not doing so can even hinder your prayer life (Proverbs 21:13).
Putting together care packages for the homeless (also known as Blessing Bags) are a wonderful way that you can be prepared to help those in need that cross your path.
Plus, this can be something that you can do as part of your regular tithe.
What is a Homeless Care Package (aka Blessing Bag)?
Just in case you haven’t heard of this, allow me to explain what a homeless care package is first. Basically, it’s a little bag of essentials that you put together ahead of time to give to those you come across in need. Some people go out of their way to pass them out to the homeless, while others like to keep them in their cars just in case they pass someone who is homeless.
Either way, it’s a bag that is made with love and compassion. It’s a package that is put together to share the love of Christ with those who really need that love right now. It is about being God’s hands and feet to reach out to those that need help and need God right now.
How many care packages should I have on hand?
If you choose to go the route of keeping care packages on hand in your car for when you cross someone’s path who needs it, you may be asking yourself how many you should have? One? Three? Ten?
I think this answer all depends on the need in your area. Do you frequently pass an area where a lot of homeless congregate? Do you see them a lot on your commute? Or is it a rare occasion to come across someone who’s homeless in your area? Think about this and then come to a number that you think will work well for your situation.
Personally, I don’t pass the homeless too often except when I go to one particular grocery store. I see them most frequently in this area. But there are those times that I see someone in need randomly. For my situation I choose to keep three on hand at a given time. When those three are gone I will make three more. But, again, if you pass more of the homeless more frequently, then you might want to have more on hand.
Things to consider when it comes to Blessing Bags
Before we dive into what to include in your care packages for the homeless, it’s important to establish a few things first. While God certainly wants us to be His hands and feet and trusting in Him is the most important thing, we also need to stay safe.
You must realize that when the Bible was written it wasn’t as common for a woman to be traveling far from home alone without her husband. Typically, she would stay on their homestead where she would help with the farm, homesteading, etc. That’s not to say that it never happened, but it wasn’t as common as it is now.
So, if you are a woman reading this, please keep your safety into consideration and the safety of your children. We should always be cautious when coming into close contact with any man we don’t know while alone (not just homeless men). Thankfully we have the Lord God on our side to protect us. But, trust the leading of the Holy Spirit, pray for God’s guidance and protection, and be sure to practice safety in all that you do.
I’m not going to presume to know what God leads you to do, but if something in you feels “off” about a situation, please trust it. Because it could be God’s leading in order to protect you. We certainly shouldn’t live in fear, but we also shouldn’t act ignorant to the evil in this world.
So please, for the safety of yourself and your children (who are more than likely in the car with you), don’t do anything that will endanger yourself or them. There are safe ways to go about this. But the most vital thing is listening to the Holy Spirit’s leading in every single situation you enter into.
Putting together homeless care packages on the cheap
There are endless ways you can make homeless care packages. Just doing a search on Pinterest you will find so many tips, ideas and suggestions. But if you don’t have a big budget or you just want to get the most bang for your buck then buying things from the Dollar Tree or somewhere similar can go a long way. Doing it this way, I’m typically able to put together three bags for just about $35. Not too bad!
The only problem with this is that you’re limited on your choices, but it’s a really solid option to consider.
What to include in homeless care packages
If your mind is spinning with ideas and being unsure of what to include, take a step back and keep it basic. Think about what you would want if you found yourself in the situation of being homeless.
Physically speaking you’d be hungry, you’d be uncomfortable most of the time, and depending on the weather you might also be cold and wet. Spiritually speaking you’d feel helpless, hopeless, ashamed, unloved, abandoned, etc.
Really meditate on what might be going through the minds and hearts of those people in your community with no home to find refuge in. And allow that to drive what you include in these packages.
Here are some ideas of things that you can (or should) include in the blessing bags you put together:
While you could certainly use a plastic bag or Ziploc to put everything for the care package in, think about their needs. They may have things they need with them regularly or want to hang on to. And having something to carry those things in would be a huge help. Plus, having a bag with handles can really help them as they carry around the things that you include in the care package.
I know that there are those who will tell you to not include any religious information in your bags. And yes, it’s true that it won’t be well received by everyone who receives your care package.
But here’s the thing…As Christians we have access the most precious gift that we can share with anyone. How can you not share that with someone in need of it? How they receive it isn’t your responsibility. Don’t worry about offending someone. Because if ten different people are offended and then one person finds hope and Christ because of what you shared, it’s worth it!
Sharing Jesus with them is sharing the living water with them (Jon 4:10-11) and giving them true rest from their troubles (Matthew 11:28-30).
Even if they’ve heard it a million times over, those are a million different seeds that have been planted and seed number million-and-one might just be the one that takes root and begins to grow.
Again, there are those people who would tell you not to include this kind of stuff. But like I said above, it’s our responsibility as Christians to share the gospel with everyone, and especially with those in need. There are lots of different options for tracts and devotionals that will speak directly to those in need of hope.
You never know, this kind of thing might just give them the spark of hope that they need to keep going and to not give up.
Whether or not to include cash is debatable. There are some people who find themselves in the situation of being homeless for perfectly legitimate reasons. And then there are others who have ended up there because of addictions that are driving them. In these situations, cash could be a stumbling block for them.
So, another alternative that you might feel more comfortable with would be food gift cards so that they can get the nourishment they need without feeding the addictions that they don’t need in their lives.
It might be nice to include other inspirational items that would offer them encouragement. Perhaps a personally written letter or bookmarks with scripture or inspirational quotes on them. While these kinds of things aren’t necessarily for physical nourishment, they can give them the spiritual nourishment that they might just need even more.
This website has some good tips about creating homeless care packages, including recommendations regarding toiletries. One of the suggestions is to skip the smelly-good lotions and soaps and things. And that shampoo, soap, etc would be available for them if they have access to a shower so to not worry about including that kind of stuff. I think this is a good tip. I’ve included these things in the past but moving forward I might skip it.
If you do include any kinds of toiletries, though, be sure to put them into a separate Ziploc bag so that if they burst they won’t ruin any of the food, and so that the smell of that stuff won’t rub off onto the food.
When you’re thinking about the food to include in your care package, consider their situation. Including things that need refrigeration or to be eaten right away might not be the best idea. Rather, make sure to include things that can last awhile (if needed) and offer them a lot of protein and energy. So that they can get the most out of the food you give them. Avoid sugary snacks and things that won’t give them much nourishment.
Some good ideas would be: beef jerky, trail mix, applesauce, etc. On that same website linked to above they made another good point (that I never thought of) and that is to skip the really hard things like crunchy granola bars and hard nuts. The reason being that if someone is homeless they may not have access to good dental care and so they might not be able to eat these kinds of food without it being painful.
Depending on the season you’re in, you also want to consider the weather that they have to face every day. During the winter they will need extra layers, so a hat, gloves, and scarf would be most welcome. Whereas in the spring they might benefit from an umbrella. And during the summer, sunglasses would really come in handy.
So, consider the season you’re in and what might help them during that season and weather.
List of Homeless Shelters & Free Lunches Nearby
If you pass a particular area frequently then you can keep a list of nearby homeless shelters and places to get free food to hand off to them as well. This way they can possibly find some places to get some warmth, food, and comforts even if it’s just temporary. I recommend printing this out as small as possible (maybe even wallet-sized) and laminate it so that it can stay sturdy.
So do some research for your area or several areas around you (so you can have different ones ready depending on where the homeless person is that you’re helping).
How to Present the Homeless Care Package
Once you have your packages put together the time will come that you will have to pass them out. And when this time comes, it’s good to be prepared for what your plan of action is. The moment will come and go very quickly, but there are some things you should do.
When you first see someone who needs the care package, pray for God’s leading. Does He want you to move in this situation? Pray, and then listen for God’s nudging. More than likely He would want you to help them. But, there might be times when you have an alarm going off in your mind and you’re not sure why. Listen to God’s leading first and foremost.
Next, when you’re ready to give them the care package, present it in a kind and loving way. Follow God’s lead on what to say. He may just have a word He wants you to share with them so listen for His leading.
Whether you stay in your car or not will depend on the situation. There have been a few times I’ve pulled over and got out of the car to give the care package to someone, and other times where I didn’t. But just be careful no matter what you do.
If there is time (and not a line of traffic behind you beeping your ear off) then consider asking them if you can pray with them. Most often this is best done if you have gotten out of the car. However, even if you can’t sit and pray with them, ask them for their name because you’d like to keep them in your prayers. And then, of course, pray for them! Don’t just say you will.
Don’t Find yourself unprepared to help those in need
We are in a spiritual battle every day. And many people out there don’t even realize it. But they are down and need some help. Think of yourself as the medical unit on the battlefield. Jesus tells us to help those in need, and it’s our responsibility to do that.
So, get prepared today and be on the ready to be God’s hands and feet to aid those who need a helping hand.
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