Published August 29, 2019
While blessing bags are always a good idea, we should give more thought to what we’re putting in them.
According to a formerly homeless mom, most items in the blessing bags are not what the homeless want nor need. Most importantly, some of those items can harm not just the homeless but also the community.
We know you just want to help and that will always be appreciated. But you’ll help them more by NOT putting these items inside the blessing bags.
1. Soap With No Proper Packaging
Soaps are incredibly useful for homeless people. Of that, there’s no doubt.
But most of the time, people just throw in the soap (and other toiletries) together with the food. As a result, the smell of the soap rubs off on it. This is especially true if the soap comes in a thin paper packaging.
If you want to give them soap (and other toiletries for that matter), be sure to put it in a separate ziplock bag. So when they spill or get wet, it won’t affect the food.
2. Sticky or Hard Foods
When you search the web on what foods to include in blessing bags, granola bars often come up on the list. While they are ideal in some cases, remember that homeless people don’t have ready access to dental services.
As such, they might find it hard to chew sticky and crunchy foods like granola bars and candies. As much as possible, stick to soft foods like tinned soup, crackers, cup noodles, and the like.
3. Sugary Foods
Since most homeless people have no access to dental care, sugary foods are also a no-no for them. Not to mention that it poses a health hazard for those with diabetes.
4. Perishable Goods
The idea of a blessing bag is that it will last the receiver for at least a few days. Since most homeless people live on the streets, they obviously don’t have access to a refrigerator. So if you pack foods for them, stick to non-perishable ones like chips, crackers, jams, etc.
There are a lot of reasons why a person ended up living on the streets. But it’s undeniable that many of them are in that situation because of addiction. This is why giving them cash is not the best idea. Instead of helping them, you might unknowingly be enabling their addiction. And that’s the last thing they need.
Instead of cash, you can give them coupons or restaurant gift cards that they can use to buy food and other necessities.
6. Religious Literature
Bibles and bible verses may seem like a thoughtful addition to a homeless blessing bag. And the homeless can certainly use an uplifting word or two.
However, you need to remember that we all have different religious beliefs. You might have the best intentions but it can come off as offensive for some.
If you really want to leave them some words of encouragement, choose quotes and sayings that have no religious implications. Or you can always talk to them and ask if they would like a bible. It’d be even better if you can spare a few minutes to read a bible verse to them.
7. Sharp or Bladed Objects
For their safety and that of the community, refrain from putting any sharp or bladed weapons in homeless blessing bags. This includes scissors, small knives, and steel forks among others.
Again, for security reasons, avoid putting matches, lighters, and anything that might ignite a fire. Aside from being a fire hazard, homeless people probably won’t have much use for it anyway.
9. Broken/ Worn Out Stuff
There’s nothing wrong with donating old clothes and stuff to those in need. But you must make sure that it’s still in good condition. If it’s not possible to donate new ones, then at least make sure that it’s not broken or have holes in them. Don’t give them things that you yourself wouldn’t use or wear. They are already at the lowest point in their lives. Don’t insult them further by giving them stuff that clearly belongs to the trash.
10. Canned Goods with no Pop-Top Openers
Canned goods are ideal for blessing bags. They last long and are very portable. But you need to make sure they have pop-top openers. Not many homeless people carry with them a can opener.
How NOT to Hand Out Blessing Bags
Aside from the contents of your blessing bag, how you hand it out also matters. Here are two ultimate don’ts when handing out blessing bags to the homeless:
Throw Them Out Your Car Window
This might sound really rude but it’s not unheard of. Some people really just open their car window and throw a bag of stuff to a homeless person they’re passing by.
Obviously, this isn’t the best way to hand out a blessing bag. In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can do to a homeless person or to anyone for that matter.
If you’re really in a hurry and have no time to park your car, approach the homeless person, and hand out the blessing bag gently, you can always donate it to your local charity. They usually have donation drives for the homeless.
This is more of a safety precaution than for any other reason. I’m not saying that homeless people are dangerous. But it’s inevitable to have some bad eggs here and there. And most of the time, it’s hard to distinguish them from the ones that really needed help.
To be safe, make sure you’re not going alone. Go with another adult especially if you have children with you.
Donate To The Poor & Homeless Of South Florida
Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen has fed the poor and homeless in South Florida over 900,000 hot meals since 1993. Our tax deductible non profit organization also accepts and distributes donations such as clothing, toiletries, shoes, bicycles, and more. You can donate to help the poor and homeless through our website.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer and devoted Christian. She has a passion for writing about topics related to morality and helping the poor and homeless. She is the lead author for the Our Father’s House Soup Kitchen blog.
Correct Digital, Inc is paid by private donors to provide website digital marketing services to this non-profit organization.