“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”
– G.K. Chesterton
Do I know the poor? Do I talk to the lonely? When is the last time I actively sought out the poor? These are three questions I ask myself throughout the year, but especially during the Advent and Christmas season. I know I am called to minister to the poor and to give my best to them.
A beautiful way to serve the poor this Christmas is through the gift of a Blessing Bag. A Blessing Bag is a little care package filled with everyday items and food that is gifted to the impoverished, homeless, and needy. It is a simple, yet profound way to actively help those who are needy in our communities.
Most of the items that can be included in a Blessing Bag can be found within your own home. Fill a gallon ziplock bag with the items, or challenge yourself and fill your favorite bag that you own. Reflect upon your own day and the necessary items you use frequently. Compare your needs to the needs of the homeless. Ask yourself, “If I were homeless, what items would I need to live?” Fill your bag with those items.
Include those who live with you in making your Blessing Bag. Ask your roommate what she would like to donate. Invite your spouse to pick out their favorite scarf, hat, or gloves to place in the bag. Tell your children the story of Christ’s birth and that everything we do for the poor, we do for Him. Have them place the items in the bag for Baby Jesus. Blessing Bags are an opportunity to evangelize those within your own home, as well as those within the streets.
Once your Blessing Bag is filled, find a way to give it to someone in need. Call your pastor, seek out a homeless shelter, or keep your bag in your car to have on hand. If you want to make a greater impact, organize an event in your parish for people to donate, assemble, and distribute Blessing Bags.
Here is a list of ideas of items to include in your Blessing Bag:
– breakfast bars, cereal bars, protein bars
– bottled water
– lip balm
– face towels
– hand sanitizer
– plastic utensils
– gallon sized ziplock bags
– beef jerky
– dried fruit
– bag of quarters (for laundromat)
– notes of love and encouragement
– prayer cards of your favorite Saints
– $5 to Tim Hortons, grocery store, or Subway