After we posted Christa Mullins’ story about the bags she passes out to the homeless on her way to her Women of Faith event, questions and comments came pouring in: What a great idea! What kind of bags? What was in them? How can our group do this, too? So we asked Christa to share more information. Her answers to the most common questions are below:
What kind of bags do you use?
I put it all in a plastic grocery store bag because it has handles so it’s easier to carry. The only issue is that they get holes so easily, so watch out for that. Another idea for the bag is to use the reusable bags they sell everywhere, but that just increases the cost per bag.
What do you put in the bags?
Typically the following: toothpaste, toothbrush, bandaids (about 4 of them), comb, poncho, socks, soap, a washcloth, powder, deodorant, tissues, gum, lotion, q-tips, a pocket bible and a little note from me saying “God Bless, from the Remington United Methodist Church.” All of the items I use are trial size because I want those getting the items to not have to worry about having to carry a lot and the bag being so heavy.
One year we also put an 8 oz. water bottle in each bag and crackers (but it made the bags heavier). The first year we also had $5 McDonalds gift cards donated for each bag. There is a McD’ s right next to where we give the bags out so it was a good thing.
Where do the contents of the bags come from?
The first few years I just asked those in our church and those on the list of people going to the Women of Faith conference that year if they wanted to help by donating or collecting donations. The first year we got gift cards donated from our local McDonalds.
The following years we were not able to get gift cards but we had gotten enough money from the church congregation that we could purchase items for the bag. One year I did ask for this mission to be our mission focus for that year’s Vacation Bible School; parents brought different items that we needed for the bags which was successful.
Then this year, in addition to donations from our women’s group and the congregation, the youth group did a car wash and donated 50% of the proceeds to the bags. This year was extremely successful and each year we have been able to give out more bags then the year before, which is all I can ask for!
What if someone has more questions?
They are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.