We thought it was a good time to share a giving idea that can provide a day’s plus worth of sustenance and care for the homeless. This is something that can be done year round, but especially in the colder weather seasons.
Depending on the time of year, you can change some of the items in the bag and other times – the items are great all year round! This is also a great activity for the kids to help plan, prepare and see you give out while you are out and about.
Here is our logic when putting these together:
- Something to eat that is both energy and protein filled that can last a long time. For example, we usually always get granola bars (high calories vs. crackers) and beef sticks. Both last forever, require little storage/packing space and are usually liked by most all. So if we give them this bag on a day where they received lots of fresh food, they can store this in their packs for days they haven’t received what they need.
- Something fresh that provides nutrients and vitamins. Like oranges (or our favorite – cuties this time of year). Oranges are also another food that is easy to store and stores for a while (compared to most fresh produce) and have a lot of vitamins.
- Personal care – especially for the mouth. Toothbrush, floss and whatever else we were able to find in our own storage at home or while we shop around for items to fill the bags with. These items vary depending on what we have on hand and what we can find at the dollar store or warehouse store.
- During the cold months, we also want to provide something that will help to keep warm. Such as the hand warmers and body warmers. The cold weather care packages cost more for us to make as these are a bigger expense, but warmth is so important and so although we can’t house them all, we hope and pray that this will help them survive a night or two.
So this time, here’s a breakdown of what we put in ours and how much they cost and where we got the supplies. Honestly, the most important thing is just to do something. It doesn’t matter if you have the exact items we put in, or even the formula or logic we use. Last year, we bought cases of nut bars that were very high calorie (meals in a bar) type of food and just handed a box to each one, so we didn’t have all of these extras, but we prayed that even those bars would provide life and care for a short time until the next person could come along and help. This year, we made these instead. It doesn’t really matter, just do something!
We made 15 bags. When we run out, we will make something similar again.
From Sam’s Club/Costco:
- 30 pack of beef jerky sticks (2 per bag) around $10
- 48 pack of quaker granola bars (3 per bag) around $10
- 2 5lb. bags of Halos/Cuties mandarins (2 per bag) $5 each for $10 total
From our storage: Note that when we see sales/coupons we stock up on items like this whether we need them as we have given them out. The drugstores are especially great places for cheap/free personal care after coupons/sales.
- Razors – we put 3 in each bag (again, these were free during one of those coupon/sale deals and we just grab them for this purpose when we see them).
- 3-pk Ivory soap (we got these really cheap sale and coupons, but they sell everyday for $1 for 3 bars at Walmart, so .33 full price) and we put 1 bar in each.
- Floss – these are .97 everyday at Walmart, but we got them for free-.47 with coupons that come out often and just grab them for this purpose when we see that coupon and eventually have a good stock for the next round of bags.
- Body Warmers and Hand Warmers. We bought 4 packs total (each had 8 – so we had 16 hand and 16 body warmers). These were around $6-$7 each. They were the most expensive part and Walmart was the most affordable at the time.
From the Dollar Tree:
- Toothbrushes. We were able to get three 6 packs for $1 each. You can’t really beat that!
Total for 15 complete bags and extra odds/ends: $33 without the hand/body warmers and $53 with the warmers. Basically, around $2 per bag normally, or about $3.50 during the cold months. Yes, it doesn’t include the cost of the ziplocs – but either way, still a very affordable way to help others for a short time!
This is an idea – we have done a number of things in the past, but what we try to do is have something in our car all of the time, all year round, to give out to the homeless when we are out and about!
Depending on what you budget and set aside for this project, I can think of dozens of things you can add in that are $1 or less, like:
- The magic gloves – we find them for $1 per pair or cheaper.
- Any used warm clothing from the thrift store – you can find stuff really cheap there too! We also see hats and scarves at the dollar store all of the time.
- Toothpaste or tooth care kits.
- Hand sanitizer
- Cereal bars
- Nut snack bags
- Breakfast Cookie Bars (they have more calories)
- Foot/Shoe warmers
- Wool socks, or really any socks!
- Used sweatshirts from the thrift store (we see these for $1 often!)
- Candy bars (like Baby Ruth or Snickers as they have the nuts for protein and higher calories)
- Tooth cleaning gum
- Trail mix
- Dried fruits
- Baby carrots (these last a long time and really don’t need refrigeration)
- Jar of Peanut Butter and Box of Crackers
- Blankets from thrift store (price varies, but sometimes you can find the fleece ones popular at this time of year that are used for $1-$3 at the thrift store. These are also lighter blankets to pack around.
- Shoes from the thrift store (sizes become the tricky thing)
- Jar of peanut butter/loaf of bread (the bread is not easy to pack around though)
What ideas do you have? This is just one of MANY ways to give throughout the year!