Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blessing Bags

While participating in new and unknown activities throughout the year can be fun, there is nothing like a family tradition to bring joy, happiness, and memories into the lives of our loved ones. Not only is it fun to see our children remember these special times from the past, but it's such a blessing to hear their little voices share the wonderment with younger siblings who have yet to participate in the experience!

One of our family's most loved traditions started about 5 years ago. I don't even know how it officially began, but it was a mix of our family's interest in the reaching out to the "urban outdoors-man" and our love of helping and serving others. For a long time, we had talked about the best way to help homeless people we saw out on the street and allow our children, at a young age, to help others, and to give in a way that didn't enable the homeless to use our gift on negative influences in their lives.

And through this discussion Blessing Bags were born!

 They have changed and grown over the years. Some years many family members have participated in purchasing, assembling and distributing the bags, other years it has only been our immediate family, while other times family has sent money or items to stock the bags. Some years the bags were the size of a gallon ziptop bag, sometimes a huge laundry bag, and sometimes somewhere in between. The beauty of the bag is that it is the heart of giving that determines what the bags look like each year!

After 24+ days of hectic Christmas preparation, filled with shopping, sewing, baking, and cleaning,  our attention is brought back to our amazing Savior and the awesome gift He came to give! It pulls us away from the distractions and the secular things, and focuses us on spreading His love to those who need Him most. It is also a wonderful time for our children to step away from the toys and goodies they've received that day and see how truly blessed they are....there's nothing like the realization that these special people are living on the street to make their "needs" turn into wants and even over abundance!

The fun begins with a shopping trip!! Most of what we need can be found at Dollar Tree (man I like that store! ;).  We start off by picking the bag we want to fill and deciding on how many we want to fill that year. This year we decided on 12 bags. I recommend packing bags in multiples of 6, 12, 18, etc., because most things at Dollar Tree come in multiples of 3 and 4's making it easy to pack bags without leftovers. Once we have the bag, we purchase things that will fit inside them.  Here is our list from this year:

  • Christmas card and candy cane
  • Bible/Christian literature
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Hand warmers
  • 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner, body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving cream
  • Razor
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush and holder
  • Comb
  • Band aids
  • Q-tips
  • Wet wipes
  • Washrag
  • Travel mug
  • Hot chocolate packets
  • Instant coffee packages(1 cup size)
  • Lemonade packages(1 bottle size)
  • A water bottle
  • Hard candy
  • Gum
  • Raisins
  • Granola bars
  • Crackers and chicken salad
  • Honey bun
  • Cookies
  • Popcorn
  • Food in a cup
    • Mac and Cheese
    • Oatmeal
    • Noodles

The Kiddos assembling the bags!
The wonderful part about the bags is that they can be given out any time of the year as well. Our goal is not just to teach our children about giving God's love at Christmas time, but through the entire year, throughout their entire life! We make smaller versions of these bags in 2 gallon ziplock bags that we keep in our car all the time. Anytime we run into someone holding a sign on the side of the road that needs help, we have a real, tangible expression of God's free gift that our kiddos can hand out the window with a "God bless you!" to close the deal!

Family traditions are a wonderful way to instill great memories into the lives of our children, but most importantly they are a fantastic way of instilling the love of God into their hearts. Make sure that during this busy season, you are focusing on what is important, what will last.....Jesus, the TRUE Reason for this Season(and every season)!

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