I pass someone living on the street at least once a day. Like most of us, this gives me a pang of sympathy, and makes me wonder what I can do to help that person. Some say it’s just a smile and an acknowledgement of their humanity, others say it’s giving them a few dollars, or connecting them with resources in the area. But I usually feel unsure and unequipped. Now that I’m a mom, and someone for whom home is so important, I feel especially called to help in some way. But often, I feel daunted by my knowledge of the root causes of this issue. Through our church, we have participated in homeless outreach ministries like Operation Night Watch, sandwich making for Rainier Valley Food Bank, and Mary’s Place, yet there is always more we could do.
I was so grateful that my friend Erica led the charge this Sunday and rallied my husband and me, along with the kids in Sunday school, to put together care packs for the homeless. People donated bulk items that would be useful for those in need over a few weeks, and then Erica organized an assembly line of kids and adults to put the items into gallon Ziploc bags.
Here’s what some of the items included: wool socks, ponchos, band-aids, healing balm, chapstick, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, cleansing wipes, sunscreen, a snack, and a water bottle.
My husband and I joined the kids as they assembled them, and we loved seeing how carefully they handled each item, and how insistent they were that every bag had what it needed. They were all excited to take a bag home with them to give to someone in need.
Our car is now stocked with four care packs to be given out. This is a small thing, but I feel more prepared to face those I see who are unsheltered, and extend care to them.
This project doesn’t need to happen in a church setting. I think it would make a great potluck dinner theme with neighbors or friends this fall: everyone can bring something to give and a dish to share.
Let me know if you have more ideas for homeless outreach. I’d love to hear from you!