Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Action and a Call For Help

Well, we have come up with a plan, of sorts, in response to last week's tension. We still aren't 100% sure what we would like to do on Christmas Day, but Aaron and I agreed that we needn't wait until then to act. We have decided to make bags to keep in the car and hand out when we see someone in need. I did not come up with this idea on my own, no we have Pinterest to thank. Of course.

Charlotte and I went to the store and got various toiletries and some granola bars to put into the bags. When the bigger kids got home we sat down and made 5 bags with the items we had. Soap, razor, washcloth, deoderant, Gold Bond powder, granola bar, toothbush/paste. It all went into the bags. The kids were rather put out that we couldn't make more bags and Tyler kept saying over and over "These bags need more food, Mom! This isn't enough food! We need to go to the store for food!"

We scoured the pantry for something to add in and found some hot chocolate packets. After I put the packets into the bags, Tyler followed me around the house saying we should take them out unless we planned on including cups and water bottles, too. "How else would they drink it, Mom?"

Lily was bothered by the absence of something healthy, so she grabbed apples from the fruit bowl as we were on our way out Saturday. She had a bundle in her arms so high I could only see her nose peeking over the pile. I could hear her grin as she chirped, "Put 'em in the bag, Momma!"

In two days we gave out all five bags. Every time she saw someone, Charlotte would get excited and bounce in her seat shouting, "MomMomMom! There's a guy, there's a guy!" Then she would try to unbuckle herself so that she could be the one to lean out the window and hand the person their bag.

The recipient was usually flabbergasted, sometimes confused and one guy laughed out loud as he looked through the items. Since we gave them at stoplights we usually zipped off as soon as the bag was placed into it's owners hands, so I can't really tell if the bags are truly helpful. I hope they are.

Now, I would like to ask my local friends and readers for help. I don't expect that you are going to feel like joining us on Christmas Day with whatever activity we choose to do, and that is ok.

I want to ask if you would pledge to give out a number of bags of food and toiletries between now and Christmas.

My hope is that we could give out 2,300 bags throughout Sacramento County (and anywhere else people choose) in the months leading up to Christmas.

That number is significant; it is the number of "chronically homeless" individuals there are estimated to be in Sacramento County. I have no idea how accurate that estimation is, but it is what I have to go on. It is something to work towards. 

As a family, we decided to try to give out 100 bags. They won't all necessarily look like the bags we gave out last time, becuase toiletries are quite expensive. We will likely try to give bags with a smaller mix of food and toiletries. The point isn't how big or small the bags is, but that we are doing something tangible and real that will hopefully bless people who feel unloved and ignored.

Will you join us? Will you keep bags in your car or in your backpack/briefcase/purse to hand out as you are going abut your day?

The sky is the limit of what you could do and who you could motivate to join you...it can be a family project or done with scout troops, school classes, church groups, book clubs, office mates, carpool buddies, the poker guys, soccer team, bible studies, playgroups, library friends, PTA....I could go on and on.

If you do decide to join me in this can you do one little favor? Can you comment below, via twitter or on facebook and let me know how many bags you want to give out and where you are from? One bag, 10 bags, 100 bags, it does not matter how many you would like to do, but it would be awesome if you did it.

Thanks, everyone!


  1. Wow, what a beautiful thing to do with your family. I love love love this idea. I will put together some bags and pass them out too, and also spread the word to others. Thank you for being so inspiring Claire!

  2. I love this idea. I read somewhere that socks are in great demand. A package of socks can be divided into 6 or even up to 10 bags. I will do my best to hand as many bags out as possible.

  3. Love, love, love this idea Claire and fam! I want to do this too. My son also works at Loaves and Fishes and I am going to send this blog link post to him.
    What an inspiration you all are.

  4. We have posted your amazing work on our Facebook page. Keep up the good work and we will continue to spread the good word!

  5. Great idea Claire! Kudos for putting actions to your faith.

    I shared your post on the Loaves & Fishes Facebook page and Tweeted it too. I hope more people take you up on your challenge.

  6. This is awesome. I usually keep rain ponchos and gloves in the car too. Im in!

  7. This is a great idea. I will commit to doing this. I usually keep rain ponchos, gloves, and dog food in my car too.

  8. Oh Aimee! that is a good idea too.
    Loving these wonderful acts of kindness!

  9. This is a great idea. I used to work with a program that worked with the borderline-homeless...the folks that live in those hotels on and K Street, mostly. Our organization used to order bulk hotel toiletries, actually, to make similar kits to hand out....sample sized stuff like that is always good because it's extra portable. And it does so much for someone to feel human again by just being clean and a little more presentable. I regularly ride through midtown in the early morning and late night and see lots of folks this could help. I'm going to set out to pass out at least 20 between now and the end of the year.

  10. LOVE this idea. I will do at least 10 bags. (I'm going to aim low and hopefully do more rather than pledge 100 and fall short.) Great post Claire!

  11. Yay, you! We do this. A bit of jerkey, pair of sox, scarf, garden gloves, hats...We have never been refused. The toiletries can be garnered from your traveling friends. Mark Horvath (a well-known homeless advocate) carries and distributes sox all the time.
    If you have a re-usable grocery bag to put the smaller baggie in they would probably be grateful for the additional carrying capacity.
    Keep up setting a wonderful example.

  12. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea. I cannot even tell you how many times I have been in my car, seen someone in need, and thought to myself, "I wish I had something in the car to give them."

    I will do 10 bags!

  13. Every time we stay in a hotel, I hoard all the toiletries. I'll get a collection together for you.


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