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Blessing Bags – Helping the Homeless

homeless blessing bag
Have you ever passed a homeless person in your car or in the city and felt your heart sink knowing that you should do something but weren’t sure what?  Its similar to the feeling you get when someone you know has a miscarraige, loses a family member or gets sick.  You aren’t close enough to them to know just what to say or do — so you wait.

It will come to you.  You fear doing the wrong thing or saying something insensitive in your attempt to reach out.

A week goes by, still nothing.  A month — and you’re drawing a blank.

That profound idea you are waiting for or the right phrase to write in a card never quite reveals itself.  Now every time you think about that person or see them you get a knot in your stomach.  You feel a pang of regret, wishing you would have done something…anything.  But now it’s too late, the window has closed.

That is how I feel sometimes when I see a homeless person.  I feel absolutely incompetent.  The need is so great.  What could I possibly do to help?  Paralysis by analysis sets in and I do nothing at all.  Fear of failure, fear of being misunderstood, fear of doing it wrong, fear of what they will think, fear of…..

Well, this season we are setting fire to fear and going to do something as a family to reach out to the homeless in our area.   We are putting together “Blessing Bags” to give away.  It’s small in comparison to the hardship that someone living on the streets faces.  But it’s SOMETHING.

Our road trip exposed us to how wide spread and desperate the situation is for homeless people — which is one of the reasons I think traveling with children is so powerful.

These Blessing Bags are our little way of saying:

“I see you”

“You are valuable”

“We are the same”

“It could be me”

I feel a profound sense of unworthiness to say these things.  I am a healthy, middle class, white woman — who drives a minivan and is baking cookies while I write this.  I am lucky enough to stay at home with my 3 year old while my two boys catch the bus to go to their suburban school with a mountain view.

homeless man blessing bag“You are beautiful”

“You are worthy of love”

“I’m sorry that life is so freaking hard and unequal”

Isn’t it a little insensitive for me to say when I get to come home to my flip of the switch fire place, Tempurpedic king sized bed, and the arms of my husband wrapped around my body when I fall into him at night?  I mean they are on the street — sleeping on hard cold ground, likely alone.  I have no right.

Then before I talk myself out of it I remember the story of the starfish.  And making a difference for just one is still valuable — for that ONE — and I know I have to get over myself and do SOMETHING.

No one would choose to live on the streets.  No one.  Somewhere along the way life circumstances hit them squarely between the eyes and they found themselves there.  For some, the unimaginable came in the form of horrific abuse as a child, for others because of some kind of loss well into adulthood.  Each one has a story.  Just like every one of us.

There is not one box we can put all homeless people into to tidy up the epidemic as a means to wrap our minds around it.   If we see them as human instead of an addict, whore, or runaway we might start making some headway.

We are all homeless in one way or another.  For some it’s obvious, for most of us it’s not.  No amount of self help books, yoga sessions, or charity can bring us home.  It takes a family.  A brother, a sister, a father, a mother.  A hand from someone saying “you belong,” “I am for you,” “you matter.”

So even though accusations rail against us until we turn away long enough to forget there is a problem or convince us that we are somehow disqualified to help — we have to fight those lies and do SOMETHING.  Anything.

homeless helpI love what the book of Matthew in the new testament says about helping the needy:

‘Truly I tell you, WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME.’”

The uncreated God made each one of us.  We are his handiwork.  We are brothers and sisters from the same family.  Each of us has a beating heart and a desire for love and respect.  A face, a story, some indescribable pain, and hopeful longing.  A need to be acknowledged and accepted.

Every time we reach out and do something kind for someone poor, needy, maligned –with no intention of getting something in return — we acknowledge their value.  Their equality.  That we could be right there in their situation had the cards been dealt differently.

So in the posts to come I’m going to cover the SOMETHING that we are doing in the form of Blessing Bags for the homeless.  I hope that you will feel inspired to do something of your own.   Because your voice matters.  People need to hear you say {with your actions} “I see you,” “I am for you,” ” you are precious beyond belief,”  “you are worthy of love.”

My brother is a photographer and did a series on the homeless {the photos in this post are from that series}.  It is stunning and brings so much dignity to the issue.   If you are planning on doing something like this with your family it may be helpful to watch the video or look through some of the pictures with your kids and talk about it together.

To make this project as easy as possible, I am creating a check list of helpful items you will be able to print out and have on hand if you want to make blessing bags of your own.  Update: See the final blessing bag product.

Lastly, I am a newbie to social media.  If you like the information we provide on this site it would mean a lot if you would share it on FB, Google +, or Pinterest {the buttons to do so are below}.  Thank you in advance!

Emily Eck Home Sweet Road

By Emily Oak

I am a Mother, a Lover, a Traveler, Entrepreneur and Blogger. I crave adventure, appreciate good leather, find old weathered wood beautiful, prefer french pressed coffee, and feel alive running in the rain (albeit at a snails pace)! I believe in living passionately, loving extravagantly, taking risks, forgiving often, and living for the audience of One. I am an introvert but you wouldn’t know that if you met me. I LOVE people.

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