Last December, as I prepared a series on Christmas anime, I knew that I would finally have to watch Tokyo Godfathers, something I’d put off for a long time. Of course, I was glad that I did watch the movie, which immediately became a favorite. While there were oh so many wonderful scenes, characters, and themes that shined in the film, one that’s stayed with me was how it portrayed the difficult life for homeless men and women. While most of us live in cozy houses, condos, or apartments, every city has a population of individuals who don’t have a place to call home. And whatever the situation was that led them to such circumstances, the reality is that their lives can be struggles, physically as well as in other ways.
In my small group this past spring, we read an engaging book that encouraged many of us to grow more deeply in our relationships with Christ. One chapter was specifically focused on the homeless, and it immediately nudged both my wife and I to make changes in how we approach those begging for money on street corners. Since that time, we’ve done little things like say “hi” or make eye contact, in an effort to treat them as they should be treated – as human.
A few weeks ago, we took another step. Joining together with several college kids at our church, we made care packages to pass out to the homeless. A wonderful project, it allowed us to show love to the homeless by providing just a few necessities. The bags had an impact beyond their small price, as the recipients seemed to genuinely be taken aback by our gesture and the hearts of the givers were thawed just a bit.
I encourage you to considering doing this little project as well – either with family, friends, a social group (your anime club?), or even by yourself. Here are some of the items you might want to include – I’ve put asterisks next to the items we included in our packages:
- *Ziploc bag – This can be reused. Consider using tight sealing bags that are waterproof.
- Brown paper bags
- Small backpacks
- *Crackers/pretzels – Include items that won’t melt.
- Meatsticks/beef jerky
- Dried fruit/nuts
- Fruit cups
- *Bottled water
- Nutrition bars
- dried coffee
- Baggie of dog food
- Can opener
- Wet wipes
- Feminine supplies
- *Hand sanitizer
- Shaving items
- Nail clipers
- Face towels
- Lice killer
- Foot medicine
- Sewing kit
- First aid kit
- Other grooming supplies – Many homeless are seeking jobs, but are unable to clean well enough for job interviews, so you might think in terms of that when supplying toiletries.
Bad Weather Essentials
- Hand warmers
- Thick socks
- Disposable ponchos
- Wool caps
- Emergency thermal blankets
- Bus tokens/pass
- Pocket radio
- Digital watch
- Pocket calculator
- Gift certificates for food
- *Card – We wrote encouraging messages for the homeless
- *Church information – If you’re part of a ministry, you might want to leave your church’s contact information and encouraging bible verses (I particularly like Matthew 11:28-29).
- Shelter/food bank contact information
I encourage you to take part in this activity on whatever scale you can. We have a small budget for such activities in our church, so we included fewer items and we bought in bulk and shopped at a dollar store for items; yet, the packages were received with smiling and sometimes shocked faces. On the other hand, you might have more money to spend on such items. Or, you might want to focus on one person you have a heart for and prepare a really special backpack of items or him or her.
Whatever you do, I hope you’ll keep the homeless in mind; they are without the essentials in life – the very things we need to simply survive. Share your time and share your blessings, and show your love.
This list was created by combing through similar lists on these pages:
- Care Packages for the Homeless [Balancing Beauty & Bedlam]
- How to Make a Care Package for the Homeless [eHow]
- Care Packages for the Homeless [Squidoo]
- Homeless Care Packages [Green Lake Church]
- How to Make Homeless Care Packages [Yahoo! Voices]
- How Can You Help the Homeless? [Spare Some Change]