I often refer to my Pinterest boards as my idea bank where I make frequent deposits to a board and enjoy withdrawing ideas as often as possible. Recently, I bought the necessary items to complete a project with my family for a photo I had pinned. After completing the project and giving one of them away, my kids and I were not even remotely expecting the reaction we received.
There was one photo in particular that caught my eye and was often labeled “Blessing Bag” when it was pinned to another person’s board. I immediately thought I could use this idea for a future almsgiving project with my kids.
We began our project by gathering around the kitchen table. I handed each one of my kids a gallon size ziploc bag to fill. They put water, crackers, tuna, deodorant, a single wash packet of laundry detergent, peanut butter, toothpaste & toothbrush, dried fruit, tissues, nuts, shampoo, and breakfast bars in it. When all of this was neatly tucked into the bag, I pulled out some quarters and asked each of my kids to count out $3.00 worth to put in a snack size bag. The quarters were included in hopes they could be used to clean a load of laundry at the laundrymat or for a hot drink now that the temperature is beginning to drop.
More often than not, as we exit the highway on our way to church on Sunday mornings, there are one or more homeless people on the corners of the exit ramps with a cardboard sign in their hands. It’s nice to have something in the car we can hand out the window as we turn towards church.
We had put the four bags we assembled in a basket to leave in my van. The following Sunday after making these almsgiving bags, we exited the highway for church, and sure enough, a lady was standing at the corner with a sign in her hand. I rolled down my window as my daughter passed me one of the bags and handed it to her. She thanked me and walked off looking quizically at the bag. She stopped at her original spot, turned around and popped her head up at us with a grin from ear to ear. Then she made sure to make eye contact with us and gave us a big, enthusiastic thumbs up.
My kids were elated. “She liked it!!!”
Then one of my sons immediately saw a man on the other side of the street holding a sign. He excitedly screamed from the back seat, “Mom! There’s another person! Let’s give him a bag!”
The problem was there was no way I could get to him without causing an accident. I explained this to my son and assured him I would hand a bag to the next homeless person I saw without endangering anyone. He was content with this.
So now, whenever we’re near our parish, my kids are on the lookout for people we can hand our three remaining bags to. I’ve had to have more than one conversation with my boys that just because someone is walking on the sidewalk, it does not mean they’re homeless. Since this conversation, my boys now equate a homeless person with a cardboard sign – obviously this initial lesson in giving is not finished, but it’s a beginning.
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