Hope for the Homeless is a project started by my friend Claire. I’m really excited to participate, and hope you might also considering being part even if you don’t live in my area. What is Hope for the Homeless? I’ll get to that in just a second.
I don’t know what your town looks like but in Sacramento there is a large homeless population. When I worked in midtown it wasn’t uncommon to be asked for money at least 2-3 times a day by different people, and I certainly noticed the numbers rising over the last few years. Of course living in Sacramento wasn’t the first time I saw poverty. Even in Orange County there is poverty but what particularly stands out in my mind is what we saw in China. In China there are a surprising number of people on the streets begging, so much so that after a month there we started to become desensitized. When we were visiting Tianammen Square near the end of our trip, I literally stepped OVER a woman and her child who were laying on the sidewalk begging.
I had all kinds of reasons for doing so. You probably recognize some:
I’ve already given.
I don’t have any cash.
They’re doing this because they know tourists will be particularly compelled.
She’s using her child and I won’t reward her for doing so. (Talk about judging, right?!)
Stepping over them is a decision I have always regretted, and one that has even haunted me a little bit. I’ve never been able to get that moment out of my head…that moment that I did nothing for a woman and a child. I made a rule after that moment. I will NEVER, EVER, ignore vulnerable women and a children on the streets. I will always do something. Because regardless of why they are there, THEY ARE THERE.
But, it’s easier said than done, right? Especially when you’re waiting at a red light with a crying baby and no cash.
Hope for the Homeless came about because Claire felt a tug on her heart that she didn’t ignore. Combine that tug with a little Pinterest inspiration, and she had an idea! What if she made bags to give out to people we come across in our neighborhoods, street corners and freeway exits?
The idea isn’t anything new of course, and Claire is the first person to say so. My friend Lori has done this kind of thing for a long time and I’ve always thought it was a wonderful idea. But what Claire has done, and I commend her, is put a challenge out to the big internet world.
What if people in the Sacramento area pledged to make 2,300 bags before Christmas? Just think of the difference we could make in a person’s life! A bag says: you matter. you belong. you are not forgotten. you are worth something.
Plus, for those of you who are uncomfortable with giving cash, (a whole separate blog post could be written on that debate!) this idea still lets you help someone in a very tangible way.
I know, I know. Claire doesn’t mess around. 2,300 bags is a LOT of bags. Which is exactly why we need your help. Please consider getting involved.
If you DO make a pledge, here’s some helpful advice:
1. Decide on a budget per bag. Mine was about $5. You may decide you only have a $1 budget. That’s ok! One dollar could buy a pair of socks, or a few granola bars and that’s better than nothing.
2. Originally I planned to coupon hunt so that I could cram as much as possible into a $5 bag, but to be honest, the extra work just made me keep putting off the project. I decided for this first round to not mess with coupons. My hope is I’ll start picking up things on sale as I see them so as to always have a little stockpile of items.
3. Consider adding a tag or note to your bag. I found the cute tag (above) on one of my favorite sites, 6th Street Design School, and repurposed it for this project. Free, easy and cute! I wrote a little bible verse on the back and called it done.
A peak at our bags:
In our bags: a package of Kleenex, a chapstick, mini-first aid kid, Zone bar, a few mini toiletry items I’ve picked up at hotels.
More ideas: socks, feminine products, tea or hot cocoa, bars of soap, piece of fruit, a bottle of water, a rain poncho.
Please consider joining Hope for the Homeless, regardless of your location. And then consider telling a friend (or your blog community) about the bags you make.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what else could be included in the bags. Or, if you’ve done something like this before, what kind of reaction did you get?