The holiday season is always a time my friends and I start reflecting on ways we can get our kids involved in giving back. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a real struggle in the past to come up with ideas that even our kindergarten aged kids could get it on.
This time, though, I think we nailed it.
I wanted to share it with you today because, while giving is top of mind for a lot of us in December, it can often fall back to the bottom of the list again by February. But philanthropy is something we should be modeling for our kids all year long.
What I like most about this idea is that a little legwork in the beginning (which actually turned out to be really fun) will allow you to set a good example all year long.
We got three families together, for a total of six kids and three more mini-helpers, and put together 50 blessing bags for the homeless. If you’re not familiar, Blessing Bags are simply ziplock bags filled with things homeless people need.
The items were all easy to get and can keep forever in your purse or car. The idea being that you keep one or two bags at a time in your car and hand them out whenever you see a homeless person- all year long.
Essential items that we take for granted can lift the spirits of someone living on the street. Of course, the specific items can be changed, but make sure that any food you use is non-perishable.
And remember, toiletry items are often harder to find and especially appreciated.
50 bags was an ambitious goal but, since I’ve had the honor of being a brand ambassador for a few wonderful companies this year, I decided to reach out and see if they’d be willing to donate to our cause. The response I received was so wonderful!
We had so much stuff in fact, we weren’t sure if it would all fit into one bag and ended up breaking the project up into two bag filling sessions. Here’s how the first one went down…
As you can see, the kids were excited to be involved and it really took no time at all to put together an assembly line and get the bags filled.
In total the bags each included:
- Tom’s of Maine toothpaste
- Tom’s of Maine soap bars
- Huggies Natural Care wipes in awesome Clutch ‘N’ Clean reusable bags
- Juicy Juice Splashers and 100% Juice Boxes
- granola bars
- goldfish crackers
- individual peanut butter
- handmade cards from the kids
It actually worked out really well filling the bags on two separate days because it gave the kids more time to interact and think about the project. The first day it took some explaining to drive home what we were doing but by the second day they totally had it down.
Spreading out the project also gave the kids enough time to make cards for each bag. This extra step added a lot of intention to what the kids were doing and gave them a chance to reflect on the what the people we are helping need, both physically and emotionally.
This is such a great project to do as a family or with your neighborhood, play group, boy scout or girl scout troop!
The nice thing about doing it as a group, of course, is being able to keep costs low. Just assign every family one item to contribute to your bags and get together on a weekend or after school to assemble.
If you have a bunch of go-getters and put together a lot of bags like we did, you can donate to local shelters as well as keeping bags for your cars. Where we live we have an organization called Tent City that sets up temporary tent housing for the homeless.
Once our bags were made, I contacted them through the phone number on their website and found out where they were currently located. Then our whole family loaded up the truck and dropped off our bags.
Seeing the conditions that people were living in during the middle of winter really made an impression on the kids and, because all Tent Cities have an intake tent at the entrance, we were able to drop off the bags without disturbing the residents and keeping the kids safe.