Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Bags

Here's a fun thing to do in Advent (any time of the year, really).

Living near a large city, we encounter panhandlers from time to time. I don't usually carry money with me, but I don't want to ignore them, either.

Twice a year (Summer and Winter) we make up bags to give out whenever we meet someone in need. We keep one in each car, and a few spares to replenish them.

Here's what we have in our Winter bags this year:
  • Gloves, Hat, and Scarf (we get these from the thrift store because one gentleman told us that he couldn't accept nice leather gloves because someone would beat him up for them)
  • Warm socks
  • Hand warmers
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Emergency blanket
  • Bandaids
  • Gatorade
  • Crackers and cheese packages
  • Trail bars
  • Christmas candy
These are what we've come up with. I guess we are spending $7 - $10 a bag, probably less because the toiletries we reused from our extra summer bags. Some years the kids make an "I'm praying for you" drawing or note to put in also.

I had a friend that founded a homeless shelter and I asked her what she did when she met a panhandler. Her answer surprised me; she said the best thing was to look at them and talk to them if you were able. Essentially, treat them like a human being because the cost of being looked through all day was very high. Obviously, use prudence, but I must say I've never had a problem.

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