Blessing Bags

blessing bagsPhoto Credit from Joy’s Hope

Serving the Homeless With Blessing Bags

I saw this idea for Blessing Bags from Kids With a Vision and thought it was too wonderful not to share!

What are Blessing Bags?

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a blessing bag, this is just a simple way to be a blessing to those you come across who might be in need (we mostly give them out to the homeless standing on the side of the road with signs). A blessing bag is a small assortment of basic toiletries and snacks in a sealable plastic bag.

Have you ever driven past a person in need and wondered what you could do to help? Keep one or two of these blessing bags in your car to have on hand!

The best part is, your children can be involved in creating the blessing bags and will most likely be present when handing them out as well. And it’s a great way to utilize coupons and freebies!

Blessing Bag Ideas:

  • Chap stick
  • Tissues
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • comb
  • soap
  • small bottle of shampoo
  • packet of razors
  • sanitary pads
  • trail mix
  • granola bars
  • crackers
  • pack of gum
  • bandages
  • mouthwash
  • hand wipes
  • warm pair of socks

Assemble all the items in gallon size sealable bags, and include a note of encouragement with the contents.

Giving Gift Cards To The Homeless

One way we have tried to responsibly give is by giving gift cards for food rather than cash. I used to include a $5 bill in our blessing bags with the intention that the person could buy themselves something to eat. Because the majority of people that we meet on the road asking for help are in a high-traffic shopping center and within walking distance, I normally give a $5 gift card to McDonald’s now. Walmart is right on the corner as well, so that would be another good option.

Monthly Mini Blessing Bags

I decided to make some mini blessing bags to keep in our car and hand out as we saw someone in need. We made several bags and they are now gone. Anytime we saw someone holding a sign, we would roll down our window and hand out a bag. My kids love being part of such a simple way to show compassion. One man said with a huge smile on his face, “YES!!! I needed a new pair of socks!”

As it turns out, the sandwich size baggies seem to work better than the gallon-size ones. They can easily be stuffed into pockets and aren’t cumbersome for the individuals we gave them to. Although we can’t fit a lot into the bags, the few things we do include seem to be greatly appreciated by everyone who receives them.

Click here to see what we include in our blessing bags…

The following posts include free printable blessing bag notes you can use.

This post was first published August 2011. Last updated 2011. 


  1. I like this idea. I’ve heard about them before, but I never think to make them up ahead of time. When we lived in AZ, there were a LOT of homeless people on the street corners, so I started purchasing $5 gift cards for fast food places & I’d hand those out instead. I usually kept a couple of extra bottles of water in the car as well, so I’d give them a bottle & a gift card. Always seemed to be appreciated.

    1. A great way to put a lot of goodies in the bags is at Walgreen’s or walmarts trial size sections. There is a wide variety of products to choose from and inexpensive so it helps u put more in the bags and make more bags too!

  2. That’s an awesome idea!! Living in Hawaii we’d use many of them up in a week as there are homeless and needy people walking the streets all over the place. Great way to be a blessing to someone with something useful instead of wondering where the spare change or dollar bill you give them is going to be spent.

  3. Great idea! I just switched to a gluten-free diet and need to get rid of some snacks and products I can no longer eat. This would be a great way to do that. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Love this idea. I have actually begun stock piling things and have decided that at Thanksgiving and Christmas I would put some baskets together with things like this in them. Everyone always gives food baskets and I thought that giving a basket full of this type of products would be a wonderful thing to do!

    1. Consider doing this at other times of year. I am a social worker, my low-income families have a lot of resources/help on the major holidays, but by summer resources dwindle.

  5. Thank you for posting this! I so have been wanting to do this! I live in a pretty good sized city in my state and see many people who could use a little extra help!

  6. Thanks for a great idea on charity for little kids. Something as simple as toothpaste is a blessing our kids don’t always understand.

  7. A suggestion: keep the food in 1 bag & the non-food in another. If you keep these in your car, with the temperature cycles, the applesauce will start to taste like soap even though they are in separate containers. Ask any troop overseas who received a care pkg with cookies packed in same box with deodorant. They will probably still be grateful either way depending on their situation, but may enjoy the items more if packed separately. This is likely only a problem if the bags sit in the car more than a few days, but I thought I’d suggest it,

    1. Yes this is true. We have started putting soap and stuff like that in a small ziplock bag inside of the bigger bag. My kids have really gotten into this and it is snowballing in our family and church and work. It is so appreciated when given one of these bags, you can see it written all over their faces. These are really a blessing and we are blessed by being able to do this and the kids are really learning a lot.

  8. I make these all the time, I call them manna bags. Obviously coming from the idea that God provided manna for the Israelites and HE is providing this for the homeless/needy. I also place a bible track in them and the card for a local homeless shelter that I support. I don’t put the card in there to be rude by any means, I just think that the idea of if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish he will eat forever. I never want to give hand outs and not give a source of help for the long term. Also a great project for community service hours that some states require for homeschool.

    1. Why can’t you do something good for your fellow man because its the right thing to do? Why is it used as an opportunity to push religion on those in a bad situation? I’m looking for smaller type reading material & crosswords to put in my bags- not something to proselytize with. Not knowing the personal religious beliefs (if any) a person has, handing out religious material doesn’t sit well with me and seems in bad taste.

      Here’s a list of what I include in my karma bags / care packages:

      – bottled water
      – Tylenol & dehydration pill packets
      – trail mix, snack crackers, oatmeal granola bars, animal crackers, etc
      – band-aids, kleenex
      – hotel toiletries
      – plastic utensil packs
      – dog food samples for those with pets (found them free at the local feed store)
      – reading material (small paperbacks, skip the bible)
      – travel sized items like deodorant, toothpaste, etc
      – hand-wipes
      – cup of soup packets
      – chap stick / lip balm
      – Contact list of local shelters, food banks & free health care services (both secular & religious)

      I get most of my supplies from Costco to keep the unit price down. I keep the bags in a crate in my car and pass’em out when I’m driving and see someone panhandling. They’re very well received, except for one gentleman who declined and said he only eats organic. That gave me a chuckle, but I’m glad as it seemed he was doing well.

      1. I’m not speaking for the above commenter, but I myself don’t consider including a Bible or any type of biblical material to be pushing religion down someone’s throat. I simply consider it to be an explanation for my reason for doing it in the first place. Honestly, I am not a good person apart from God. I am selfish, self-consumed, and prideful. But because God lives in me, I can show love to others like He has called me to.

        1. I find religion to be a very personal matter, so I leave out the religious literature. If I were to include it, I’d feel compelled to leave all manners of materials, including hindu, muslim, buddhism, xtian, jainism, atheism, etc texts or pamphlets. The person on the receiving end isn’t any less blessed or thankful for not having an explanation to my motivation (didn’t mean for that to rhyme). I wish you happiness & thank you for letting me express my opinion. Peace.

          1. If someone truly believes that people who don’t know Jesus are going to hell, then the only loving thing to do is to act on that belief. It would be quite hateful indeed to believe this and NOT share the way to go to heaven. You may believe what you like, but I am thankful when people I don’t agree with try to share their convictions with me; it shows me that they care if I about my eternal destination. Why else would they share? They are showing love.
            Of course there are many disrespectful and hateful ways that people try to “share” their beliefs. I am not refering to those, but we all know the difference.

        2. I agree Jenae. As Christians, it’s part of our “mission” to tell the world about Christ, regardless of the consequences. We are showing God we are witnessing for Him. If just one person is touched by His love, through my “gift” to them, that’s all that really matters.

      2. Its because of Christ that we know this is the right thing to do. And honestly, there’s no greater blessing than the blessing of knowing Christ!! If I truly want to give a “blessing bag,” how could I leave out the world’s greatest Blessing? :) So thankful for those who shared the joy with me!! And I want to pass it on to others!

  9. This is such an awesome idea! They would be very handy to have in the car so when we see these people with their signs we could just hand them out as well! Even make some for pets if they have a dog with them!
    Very very cool idea!

  10. Thanks for The Blessing Bag Idea. I have been meaning to do this for a long time. I am going to do it this week and keep a couple or more in my car to give out. I will include a free World Bible School lesson.
    Blessings to you.

  11. Oh my gosh who cares what you put in the bag to read seriously if the person doesn’t want to read it they won’t they could care less I am sure what written material is in the bag. Please don’t ruin this by making it a religous discussion “J” your additional comments in your post were not necessary you should have kept to yourself. JUST put the bags together and get them out there to the homeless for goodness sake why is everything always a debate we can’t live in this country without having to debate everything seriously I am in my 40’s and really who cares …. it is the thought and kindness that matter. There are 16 million hungry children and millions of homeless and hungry adults go spread your wealth whatever that wealth might be $5 – $1,000 who cares just get up and do something – you can put your personal message in the bag who CARES??

    1. I couldn’t agree more…who cares, I’m sure the person who receives it doesn’t. If they don’t want to read it, they won’t. If they do get something out of it, then great! And DAS, these are the same people who get mad about being told “Merry Christmas” as opposed to “Happy Holidays”.

    2. @DAS- Read again because you missed it. I didn’t interject religion into the discussion, I responded to it. I offered a point of view for others to consider. You singled me out and said I should have kept the comments to myself. Am I only allowed to express an opinion as long as you agree with it? I guess this would certainly eliminate this so-called debate and having to read other people’s perspectives, for sure. I will agree that yes, people should assemble & hand out their karma / care / blessing bags ASAP.

      @ Jeane, Diane & Naomi

      Yes, Diane, I realize as a xtian, you must proselytize regardless. I’m trying to raise awareness here that imposing your religion on someone with bible studies, pamphlets while they’re obviously in a vulnerable state doesn’t always come across as kosher. I realize this idea might be foriegn to some or even most, but its true if you think about it. Naomi, I’m sure you knew helping your fellow man was the right thing to do before you found your blessing. Jeane, does the act of sharing & being kind necessitate an explanation? I think you’re a good person, regardless.

      @Jessi. Not at all. If you told me Merry Christmas as opposed to Happy Holidays, I wouldn’t care. If you insisted on saying it to a stranger wearing a yamaka, then I would question if your intentions were true.

      I’ve recently upgraded to the ziploc bags with the thumb-tab, which makes it easier to open and close. @Stacey, I’m curious what you put in your pet care packages besides dog food? Please share.

      PS- @Catt – Thank you for your kind words & understanding. Much appreciated.

  12. I think this would also be a good idea to send to troops overseas. Our troops need as many blessings as they can get!!!!

  13. I pinned your Blessing Bags and I have had 120 likes and 532 pins.
    I pinned it about April 1.
    If everyone will use them it will bless a lot of people.
    Blessings for what you do.

  14. Homeless people do not want toothpaste or deodorant. They don ‘t use that. Also, many can not read, so you don’t need to include reading material. Food, water, and clean clothes are the basic needs.

    1. Jenna, who are you to say what all homeless people want or need? And generalising that they’re also illiterate is really quite sad. Many homeless people are just like you or me (increasingly so these days), but fallen on hard times or struck down by an unmanaged mental illness, so maybe all they need from people like you is a little dignity and respect. A care package such as this would do much in that regard.
      P.S. J, I agree re: your comment about the inclusion of religious literature. You cannot assume a person’s religious position, to do so would be both arrogant and insensitive, and charity should come without strings attached. Jesus didn’t leave a business card at the site of his good deeds, and the Bible says thou shalt not preach on street corners. Let the act of kindness stand alone – if the recipient believes in God, then they will be sure to thank him themselves.

      1. Catt, I agree with you on the illiteracy comment.

        But actually the Bible never says not to preach of street corners. It does, however, say not to PRAY aloud on a street corner to draw attention to yourself, rather you should go in your closet and pray. This was in reference to the religious leaders of the day who would pray aloud on the streets for a show, so that everyone could see how “holy” they were.

        Sure, Jesus didn’t leave a business card with the people he healed and touched, but you better believe EVERY SINGLE PERSON knew for whom He was working and nobody was the same once they met Him (Nathaniel, the woman at the well, Mary Magdalene, all his disciples, etc).

  15. I know everyone means well with how they give out their blessing bags…But this is not a forum for who is doing what wrong. Everyone has the right to include in the bags what they want. Please pick a different forum to jump on people who want to share what makes them happy with someone else. Who are any of us to judge why or what people do. Some of you have truly disappointed me. Keep this a good thing. There does not have to be a RULE for everything. Just let people do what they want. Religious material or not…It’s their choice.

  16. I volunteered at a drop-in center for street involved youth and the items in the Blessings bags were similar to what we gave out in the drop-in, minus the coins. It may not sound like a lot, but many times it is those basic items that the kids need. I’m going to make up the bags with my grandkids; it would be cool for them to write the notes to put in the bags, maybe even add a picture.
    Many times the YMCA or other center will have a printed sheet of resources for street youth that you could also add to the bag if the youth are traveling and don’t know the area.

  17. When I was a homeless teenager, we would get these and use every part, i would even read the bible just to read something, but when we were done reading that bible, we would use the pages to roll our tobacco we found left over in cigarette butts. But I am not a Christian today, but there was one thing I appreciated above others, an older woman would come to where I and many other homeless kids would stay and hand out apples oranges bananas, and $.99 bread and bottles of water. Sometimes she would give out packs of Tylenol. I guess what I’m trying to say is everything even a bible has a purpose.

  18. My former mother-in-law does these. She told me to always add socks. Socks are very important. The colder you are, the more socks you can put on. They can also be used as mittens.

  19. I was excited about these gifts of caring baskets I was happy to read all the different things people put in them I had hoped this thread was going to follow in that direction ……but……it became personal comments that included a little snarkie attitude towards each other what does any of that really have to do with the idea of the basket lets get back to that and how about a little humbleness none of you are on the receiving end of these wonderful gifts please put joy back in my basket

  20. I have found a great way to allow me to put more items in the bags and for that matter make more! Go to Walgreen’s and Walmart in the travel size sections and there is a big. Variety to. Choose from allowing you to add more and more variety. If you happen to coupon you can get some great 50 cent off coupons with no size limit!! Clip or print all these you can.. You can get a lot of stuff total
    Free!!!yay!!! Toiletry coupons are plentiful online at the different mfg. Websites. A lot of these you. An get full size products for pennies or free! Another helpful idea is to add one of the free 211 booklets. Its full of tons of helpful information. Where to get free rides. Medical assistance, free meals where and on what days. The list goes on and on. You can find these at a local community center or the post office. Last,but not least spend an afternoon with your kids at a soup kitchen or a coat drive. Allow them to have the honor of that wonderful feeling that comes not just from giving someone something (which is great by the way!). But that warms your heart feeling when you roll your sleeves up and truly pitch in with a little hard work to make the next persons day just a little bit brighter! Anything anyone can do to help out those in need and our amazing hero’s out there in the world helping to keep us at home safe and help the ones all over the world that our soldiers help touching their lives in so many ways. I think your all great!!! Appreciate one another and let’s all keep giving back to those in need in any small way we can! GROUP HUG!!! Rhonda

  21. this is a wonderful idea and way to bless those less fortunate as well as to educate our youth in carrying on the caring and good will to others.

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