At Bag of Blessing, we seek to encourage a thoughtful approach to helping your community’s homeless or struggling populations. We believe that when we give, the motivation of our hearts matters. If we’re giving to tick a box on a checklist or to be seen by others as the giving sort, we’ve missed the mark. However, if we give out of the sincere belief that each person is worthy of dignity and respect, and we give them the best we have, we’re doing the work of Christ. To that end, we’ve developed a set of core principles that we’d like to share with you:

  1. While the economy of cost is an essential aspect of a successful Blessing Bag ministry, we believe that simply buying the cheapest materials possible for your Blessing Bags should be avoided. When considering what to put in your Blessing Bag, consider the things and brands you would like to receive and buy those items instead. There will be times when the cheapest materials will also be desirable, and when that happens, we should celebrate.
  2. Consider your location and availability of services for the homeless and struggling populations when crafting a list of items for your Blessing Bags. Typically, medium to large cities will have multiple ways for folks to receive complimentary snacks and meals. If that’s the case, maybe focus on giving away comfort items such as socks, sunscreen, moist towels, etc. If you live in a smaller city that doesn’t have resources for the homeless, focus more on food items and gift cards to local restaurants. If you have the resources to focus on comfort and food items, that’s wonderful, and we encourage you to do that wherever possible.
  3. When assembling a list of Blessing Bag items, try to think of things that you don’t need very often, but when you do, you really need them. Examples include antacids, hydrocortisone cream, allergy medication, sunscreen, band-aids, etc. Any common over-the-counter medications and/or treatments should be considered.
  4. Since most homeless people must always carry everything they own on their person, always consider the weight and size of any item you put in a Blessing Bag. While you may be able to get a great deal on a 32-oz bottle of shampoo, you should avoid putting it in a blessing bag unless you’re willing to rebottle it into smaller sizes. Generally speaking, TSA carry-on travel-size bottles are a GREAT size and shape for Blessing Bags.
  5. Avoid taking donations of sample-sized and hotel-sized toiletries unless you gather enough of the same items to distribute at scale. There’s nothing wrong with these items; however, we want to keep the Blessing Bags consistent. No two Blessing Bags should differ in a given assembly session. Suppose sample-sized and hotel-sized items are donated. In that case, you end up with various brands, qualities, and container types, making it challenging to create equitable Blessing Bags. That said, I would encourage you to engage with a hotel supplier for those items, as name brands typically make them, and you can find great value for your Blessing Bag money. We hope to have a list of hotel suppliers on the Resources tab soon. Above all, though, keep Point 1 in mind.
  6. Giving to someone in need is something that should not be taken lightly. There is a proper way to give, and you cannot give properly if your attitude toward giving is marred by preconceived notions about the person you are giving to. This means that when you give, you should give with a clean heart. Saying things such as “they’ll just sell the stuff in the bag for money for drugs” or “some people prefer to be homeless” is crass and doesn’t have the heart of Christ. Matthew 25:40 CSB says, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” If we keep this scripture in mind while we give, it won’t be easy to give with anything but love. A person who is homeless has had a long string of circumstances leading to that insecurity and is not inferior because of it. Any of us could easily find ourselves in the same place.
  7. If you encounter someone who is in need and is of a sexual orientation that you do not approve of or is living a lifestyle that you deem inappropriate, do not let that prevent you from giving. Additionally, you should withhold any comments that may appear disparaging, hostile, or disapproving of what you see in the person you disagree with. Christ showed only love to people considered outcasts, and we should do the same.
  8. You should not film or record any interaction with the person you are giving to. Not only does this open the door to self-aggrandizement of your giving, but it also reduces the dignity of the person receiving the gift. While we understand the need to promote a ministry to a church body, promotion efforts should be limited to photos/videos of folks making the Blessing Bags, statistics around how many were handed out, how many volunteers assisted, and the like.
  9. Don’t let a previous gift to a person prevent you from giving to them again. We wholly reject the notion that because we gave to someone once, we shouldn’t give additional gifts in the future. We are not responsible for judging what a gift recipient does with what we give them. Our job is to provide the gift, not out of obligation to a ministry but out of love for one of Christ’s children.
  10. A gift should be given without obligation to the recipient. Sometimes, ministries require the homeless to listen to the Gospel before receiving a gift or to pray with the ministry leaders. Such efforts, while well-intentioned, tend to paint a poor picture of Christ. Christ gave without asking for anything in return. He healed folks and told the people he healed, “Don’t tell anyone about what I did.” He didn’t ask the people he healed to stick around and listen to him preach. He didn’t ask them to go and tell five of his friends. He just gave without placing an obligation on us. We should have the same attitude.