Service In The Name Of Jesus During The Holidays, DIY Christmas Blessing Bags

      I went to be a blessing, but I was blessed. #feedingthehomeless
Good blessed Sunday morning beautiful people!
Today, I am posting something very near and dear to my heart, service in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, especially now.
We are all gearing up for the days that will bring us to Christmas, we have lists to go over, gifts to buy, food to prepare, rooms to ready for guests, outfits we want to get to look good in, wishes for what's under our tree, loads of treats we get to eat, cocoa by the fire, travel, and much more. 
It's the most wonderful time of the year but not for everyone.
There are many people who are suffering, alone, no place to call home, young & old alike, hungry, isolated, cold, feeling unwanted and unloved. 
In all our celebrating and tremendous blessings, even when it seems we have so little, (trust me, I know about having little) we still have more than too many out there on the streets.
This holiday season, why not start a new family tradition where you can get the kids and the whole family involved? 
Blessing Bags!
What in the world are blessing bags you ask? I am here to tell you along with some pictures and lists from some other lovely bloggers.
Blessing bags are simple bags you put together to keep in your car, or in your bag when you travel on public transport, to give to those on the streets, that are desperately in need.
They have things like non-perishable, small food and toiletry items along with small pieces of clothes and an encouraging word card. They are so perfect because they fit in small spaces, are greatly needed and appreciated, and help us be empowered to assist others and feel good doing random acts of kindness. Helping others was a huge part of Jesus' ministry and he set such a strong example of how God's love covers all, is considerate of those who struggle, and cares so deeply that the most vulnerable are always foremost in His thoughts and heart.
We can spread love and ease the burdens in the lives of others through these simple acts of caring.
It's good for others and for us as well.
Science has studied the effects on our brains when we do for others without expecting in return, parts of our brain actually fire up, happy hormones flood, and we  get a slight high from it that lasts for a while.
It also helps build character, teaches us to put aside petty concerns, refocuses our energy away from all the nonsense and distractions of this fallen world, and places God back in our heart's; reminding us that we are all connected and one.
Doesn't get much better than that. 
I will give you some information to make great bags, avoid some mistakes, and leave some links to some beautiful blogs with more information and helpful pointers. Do what you can, if you can only make 1 bag, that's more than some others will ever make in their life time. This isn't a contest, it's a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the season, it's something that can be done all year long, and it's something you can do quietly, just between you, those you assist, and Jesus.

Blessing Bag Info:

The blessing bags I make are actually two in one, I always have a toiletries/small clothes item bag, with a gift card for local Tim Horton's coffee shop (when I can afford the cards). The second bag is the food with an encouraging word card. I keep these separate because homeless people have informed us that strong things like soap permeate the food, making it impossible to eat and thus getting thrown out and wasted. The opposite of what you and they want to do.
People on the streets often have serious health and especially dental issues, therefore, it is not recommended to load them with sweets and sugar laden items. They need savoury foods, things like crackers, small cans of fish/hummus/pates that have a pull back top which doesn't require a can opener. You can add healthy snacks, bottled water, hot cocoa or instant coffee packets, real juice, fruit cups, granola, trail mix, unsweetened apple sauce, apparently beef jerky is very popular as are meat sticks and cheese along with a fruit like a banana or apple or even oranges. Just make sure food that is perishable will not be past date or won't go bad by the time you give out the blessing bags. Don't forget to include throw away cutlery and napkins.
Socks and clean underwear are much appreciated, as are scarves, gloves, and hats. Don't buy expensive things, as some items that are worth more will often be sold instead of used. Don't be offended, these people need to survive any way they must and expensive personal items can also be an invitation to dangers like being robbed, or worse.
When giving toiletries women say that they struggle most with getting feminine hygiene products as these are always forgotten about. Tampons and pads are greatly appreciated along with tylenol and wet wipes.
All appreciate chap stick, cough drops, band-aids and antibiotic creams and alcohol disinfectant pads, soap, deodorant, lotion, and small tubes of toothpaste with toothbrushes. Do not buy big, regular sized items. When on the streets, it is better to travel light and with less, most people won't hold on to large quantities of items as it is just not practical.
Lastly, it is not recommended to deliberately go by yourself, alone, to hand out these types of bags. You must be aware that danger can lurk even when intentions and actions are good.
This is life, don't be hardened, choose to be wise. Bring a friend or two and stay in a car most times if you can, hopping out to give the bag along with an encouraging word and blessing before going back on your way.
If you'd like to make your own Blessing Bags, this is a simple list of ideas to start figuring out what you would need: (It comes from the kids with a vision blog, link below)
Gallon size Ziploc bags
items to go in the bags, such as:
chap stick
packages of tissues
toothbrush and toothpaste
trail mix
granola bars
pack of gum
band aids
coins (could be used to make a phone call, or purchase a food item)
hand wipes
you could also put in a warm pair of socks, and maybe a Starbucks or Tim Horton's gift card
Assemble all the items in the bags, and maybe throw in a note of encouragement. Seal the bags and stow in your car for a moment of providence.
This would be a great activity to do with some other families. Each family could bring one of the items going into the bags (ex: toothbrushes). Set up all the items around a table and walk around it with the Ziplocs and fill the bags.
A great way to get kids involved in helping people in need in the community is to create Blessing Bags, to provide real help for those who are homeless or homeless organizations.
                                          How to pack a blessings bag:
Don't be shy, if this has inspired you then get out there and grab the day! You will bring a smile to someone who may be able to keep keeping on because of one simple act, one person at a time.
God bless you all!
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