Monday, December 10, 2007
Just bag it
For years I ignored the homeless sign holders I passed on the street. I had convinced myself that they didn't really want to work, and any money they collected was probably used for alcohol or drugs.
Not that I was unwilling to help those in need. Every Christmas I gave toys for the children in homeless shelters. I felt I was helping as much as could be expected. I saw few options for getting more involved—especially with my young children in tow. I was doing my part and that's what mattered, right?
But my kids saw things differently. When we passed a homeless person on the street, I saw people beyond help. They saw people in need and knew that we could help. When they'd ask why we didn't help that man on the sidewalk, I'd explain that we didn't want to give him money because we didn't want to encourage his lifestyle.
That answer only worked for a while. Before long, they became relentless about finding a way to help the homeless people they saw.
The kids and I thought of an idea we could put together a "Needs Bag." We sat down and talked about the type of needs we could fill for the people we met. First, we'd meet the physical needs of food and drink with non-perishable food and a drink box. Then we'd offer help for spiritual needs by adding a booklet of the Gospels or a New Testament in an easy-to-understand translation (we found these for a dollar at dollar tree).
We shopped for supplies and put together a few Needs Bags. Today we went on our little drive on and off the freeways. The kids were so excited to hand them out. We still have some bags left and we will keep them in our car so when we're out running errands, we give a bag to the needy people we see as we're driving. As we drive away, we pray for that person.
This is a small and easy ministry outreach that my whole family can participate in. More importantly, it's a way for children to live out Christ's charge to his disciples: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matt. 25:40).
In our bags we included:
tuna and crackers (individual serving style)
juice box and water bottle
and a note from the kids:)