Recently I wrote about a service project, assembling "gift bags" that can be given to homeless people when you see them along the roadside. Today we followed up on that in my home and made ten bags containing the following:
Scarf, hat, headband, or a pair of gloves2 granola barsSmall box of raisins10 cough dropsChapstickTravel KleenexComb2 extra Ziploc bags
The cost for each bag came to $4.50 and half of that was for the item of clothing. We're planning to add a note to each bag, just to give a word of encouragement to the recipient and to let them know that this little act of love was done in Jesus' name.
I took my two daughters and granddaughter along to shop for these items, and had two of their friends from the neighborhood helping as well when we assembled the bags. Each of the neighbor friends got to take a bag home for their parents to give away, and we sent two bags home with my granddaughter. So the project is touching a couple of bases: blessing the poor, reinforcing our value of compassion in my daughters & granddaughter, and even letting the neighborhood know, if subtly, what kind of household we are (or at least are trying to be!)
One last idea that I may follow up on as well. I'm thinking of including a stamped postcard, addressed to my church, with a note inviting the homeless person to share any thoughts they wish. If they want to say something to me or to the church - even about what kinds of "giveaways" are helpful or insulting - that would be great. If they want to say something to the Church at large, or to society, or to the Governor or President, I'll promise to deliver their message as best I can. It may well be that some of those messages might end up on this blog. If nothing else, it will let them know that someone thinks their voice is important and is trying to listen. I think any of us would appreciate that.