How to Make Blessing Bags to Give Back This Year
Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.
Find out how these blessing bags can make a difference in your community. ❤️
Bring a little joy to those in need with DIY blessing bags!
Want to make someone’s day a little brighter? Kindness doesn’t cost much, and these DIY blessing bags could delight someone affected by homelessness. It can also be a great opportunity to teach your kids about helping others in need and show them how a little generosity can go a long way.❤️
What should you put in your DIY blessing bags?
If you’ve got a surplus of unused essential items like toothpaste, deodorant, tissues, and hand sanitizer, don’t let them sit in a drawer and collect dust. Instead, give them to someone in your community who really needs them!
If you don’t have any supplies on hand, try to buy them in bulk at places like Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart, or even Amazon, so you save money with the larger quantity purchase. You can also find a number of cheap items at Dollar Tree like I did!
Thoughtful items to use when filling your blessing bags:
- Toiletries: deodorant, toothbrushes, razors, soap, shampoo, shaving cream, period products
- Cold weather essentials: Hand warmers, socks, scarves, gloves, chapstick
- Food/drinks: Bottled water, Gatorade, granola bars, trail mix, tuna/cracker packs, beef jerky, other non-perishables
- Other personal care items: Sunscreen, lotion, feminine hygiene products, washcloths, kleenex, bandaids
- Small-denomination gift cards for coffee & food
Here are a few budget-friendly finds to include in your blessing bags:
If you don’t know where to donate your blessing bags, refer to your city’s Homeless Shelter Directory for a list of nearby locations. You can also keep a few bags in your car in case you spot someone in need.
Get others in the giving spirit with you!
What’s better than giving away 10 blessing bags? Giving away 20 or 30! Invite your friends, coworkers, and family members to join in your blessing bags activity—the more the merrier! If they can’t donate their time to help fill the bags, ask if they can help by donating the supplies. They might already have a number of items sitting in their closet or pantry at home.
Want to make your blessing bags more thoughtful? Add a note of encouragement!
Sometimes a few short and sweet encouraging words are enough to lift someone’s spirits. Whether it’s a kindness quote or a simple message of encouragement, it could have more of an impact than you think.
Blessing bags don’t have to be just a holiday occasion. Shelters, food banks, and individuals affected by homelessness have needs year-round, so never underestimate the impact of your giving! ❤️
Looking for more ways to spread kindness? Check out these sweet ideas!
I’ve been doing this years and also volunteer at a local men’s shelter. I was told by the guys there, that they loved receiving the bags, especially the socks! They did tell me, not to give hard to chew food, as many don’t have teeth. I swapped out the energy bars for fig bars. I also make copies of the various places in our city, where services are available – i.e. hot meals, shelters, mental health, etc. thanks so much for publishing this for others to see!
Thanks to Hip2Save we take all the free samples of deodorants, shampoos and other assorted goodies and really great sale items and make up these kind of bags for the shelter we support, all year long. We could not do it without everything you do! Your great posts and advice and how you figure everything out ( like the current Softsoap Amazon deal), make it so much easier to help others. Thank you! Wishing you all a Happy Holiday season. Stay safe and healthy!
I like this idea, but I would be wary of nuts with so many having nut allergies. Also, if I was doing this (if on a smaller scale because I know this could get really expensive quick), I would purchase reusable bags to cut down on plastic waste and to give one more “goodie.” Just my two thoughts and in no way critical of a wonderful idea! Thank you for your suggestion!
I volunteer with an organization that helps feed the homeless. They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE reusable shopping bags. So I definitely 2nd this!
Also donate to the Veterans homes.
I don’t know how to say this without coming off badly, but: Please contact the homeless shelters and other activists in your town before making these bags. The area around my city’s main homeless shelter is littered with toiletries and other items that have been given out by well-meaning people and just tossed away. The items that are most appreciated by the homeless are socks, razors, and cigarettes. Yes, cigarettes. One of the main activists in my (large, metropolitan, midwestern city) always includes 2 cigarettes with every bag, because often the clients just want the items I mentioned before and purge the rest or hand them right back to him. He also sees a lot of littered items in the homeless camps in the woods.
Fair enough, but I really don’t understand the idea behind giving cigarettes to people that likely don’t have health care if they’re going to chuck the other items anyway.
Look, I “get” that giving out cigarettes might be distasteful to some. But, you have to meet people where they are. Cigarettes are expensive and many of the homeless smoke. The simple act of giving someone what they want can lead to trust and other discussions about how to find help with substance abuse, mental health issues, finding work, etc.
I found your comment very helpful and eye-opening, Deb. Thank you. While anything given with good intentions is a wonderful act, if it’s not what the person truly wants or feels like they need it is wasted. I have contacted shelters several times thinking that I had the most perfect donations, only to be told it is not what they need. It is always good to check.
I’m not being argumentative, so there’s no need to be defensive, but I just read an article where a soup kitchen/homeless shelter said to not even provide items with sugar in it as the homeless don’t have dental care or give money as you may be inadvertently feeding the addiction that put them on the streets in the first place. Providing cigarettes seems counter to those things, as well. I think an activist trying to build rapport with homeless clients by giving cigarettes out is one thing, but I do wonder about the wisdom of random strangers – who won’t be there for these people in the long run – doing it. I’m a big proponent of charity actually mattering; too often people think that if they’re doing “something” then that’s good enough. Thanks for your perspective.
A agree with you deb 100%
Cigarettes are the least of these peoples problems.
I agree with Deb too. You do have to meet people where they are. While I wouldn’t buy cigarettes to hand out, I applaud those with a genuine heart and commitment to helping the homeless.
I also agree with the previous poster that it’s important to see what organizations need first. I have a friend who regularly donates kids clothes–really nice, well maintained pieces– to the local DEFACs. She literally had a truck bed full of clothes of various sizes. Don’t you know they had more clothes than they needed and turned her donation away? She went to great effort and drove more than a hour to drop the stuff off.
One last thing: my mom and I used to take food to the homeless on Thanksgiving Day…the majority accepted it and some began eating it while we were standing there. But not everyone wanted food and we respected that. Even homeless people have preferences which is perfectly fine, imo.
People who are homeless have preferences. Of course they fo- they are human beings!
Read the book titled. ” Same Kind of Different as Me”. It may help you understand.
I agree. I work with the homeless as my job. Things like cigarettes are their only pleasure in a dismal day. They usually don’t have places to use body wash or bar soap.
I literally just made one this morning for a friend that’s driving cross country for a funeral. It’s such a sweet and simple way to say you care.
I would suggest giving these bags where they would really be used and appreciated like to the foster care system, recently released inmates program who are trying to get back on their feet, or parents who have babies in the hospital or nicu.
I was in foster care as a child. I was taken with only the clothes on my back. A bag like this done for a specific age range with donations of new, cleaned undergarments and some small toys would really make a difference to a child entering the system. I had no toys and it took several days for the caretaker to get the voucher for clothing and essentials. It doesn’t allow for toys which is a necessity for young children and not all foster homes have toys either. Mine didn’t.
To be honest, giving bags like this to the homeless is mostly just feel good for the giver. Plenty of people who are homeless aren’t there because of addiction. Money given directly or donated to a local assistance group is the way to go rather than buying retail. Shelters get tons of donation items. Imagine rooms just filled full of donated clothes and piles of two day old baked goods from local grocery stores. What they need is cash to pay for bus tickets, electric, water bill, cleaning supplies, etc.
I agree. Give what they need or like. Wouldn’t you want the same? I was a foster parent for years and was heartbroken when kids came to live with me with nothing. Its heartbreaking for all involved.
My high school aged daughter and I volunteer for the Missouri chapter of I Support the Girls, a global effort to provide feminine hygiene products, bras, underwear, and toiletries for homeless and impoverished females. We solicit donations, organize and pack them and distribute them at organized events in our community. Women have needs that men don’t and to hand out a Period Pack to a girl in need or a bra to a woman who doesn’t have one is a blessing to them and to us. Learn more at: Isupportthegirls.org
Where are you at in MO? I am in the STL area. I would like to know more about this org.
Homelessness occurs all year. Shelters and mission’s receive 90% of their donations during the holidays while the rest of the year they struggle to provide services. The Christmas spirit can occur in the Summer too! Contact your local Mission agencies for needed supplies.
I donate some to our local food pantry and to the VFW for veterans.
I have been told toiletries are nice to have at our local food bank. I know that the recipients are not currently able to go in and shop(covid-19), but items like toilet paper, tampons, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, and laundry detergent are things they appreciate having to offer their clients. These are things they need but can’t buy with food stamps.
Something else to include in the bags: masks. In most locations one can not go anywhere without a mask on ones face. Recently I was approached by someone as I came out of a store. I was certain he was going to ask me for money. But no. He asked me for a mask. I carry a box of masks in my car and was able to give him a handful.
When choosing food items be careful. Many homeless have been without dental care and can’t eat a lot of the nuts & beef jerky. I always put nutritional bars and food that is easy to chew in the bags.
Seconding this. Also, be mindful of the sodium content of the snacks you’re giving out. Things like mixed nuts, jerky, chips, etc. have tons of salt in them. Pair that with the canned soups and veggies they might be getting from food banks, and that’s creating a diet which is dangerous for the heart and vascular system.
Love this idea!
Women and teens need the maxi pads and pantyliners. They are often forgotten about.
Please remember to include a bottle of water. You can usually get a case of water for $2-$3. The homeless have a hard time getting fresh, clean water to drink. Also, they can use it to brush their teeth or wash their hands.
I just dropped off a bag of toiletries to someone who puts together these blessing bags to donate. I would agree with previous posters that you should contact where you would like to donate to and ask them what their needs are. For example, one organization only wants travel size toiletries. In my area, I have also not seen anywhere ask for food donations to be included in the bags.
These are such creative ideas to bless other people!! Thank you
Cheese sticks are popular according to a friend who does homeless outreach. Sample size also makes sense as many of these folks live out of a backpack. I’ve also learned from my volunteer work socks & underwear are seldom donated & often requested.
You can always contact a school in your area with a quick phone call and they will have a homeless liaison that, while geared towards students, will certainly be able to help you direct your donation to the appropriate place outside of the school setting. They may also know what would be needed in the area or at that time as they are in touch with that community on a regular basis and have many contacts from food banks to homeless shelters.
My extended family decided no gifts (unless minors) for each other and my sister and I are making bags like this for our local shelter this year. My sister said she wants to do it again next year. The shelter said socks and good washcloths were a priority.
Socks are always a great need in the shelters where we live too! Wonderful idea you family is doing!
We did this at our church yesterday with our youth group. This week we will deliver them to several shelters in my area.
I’ve made these bags and tried to give them out, the homeless at rest stops sometimes throw them back at me because all they want is more money for alcohol and drugs 😢
Sad to say that I’ve had this happen too. I put together bags with my son and we give them out together. Even if we’ve encountered a few that aren’t thankful, we still continue to make them and hand out.
WOW….this statement is so off-putting. Do they yell at you saying…no I need heroin! I think not. The homeless are human- if they have substance abuse issues, do not look down on them. Rich people are addicts too.
Our community gathers together to give supplies to a lady who makes these blessing bags in our town. Every year our community we gathers for Patients in the hospital, Christmas presents for kids, or families in need.
I volunteer with a group that serves the homeless. They especially like receiving fruit (mandarin oranges and bananas seem to be the most popular; apples are too hard), bottled water, reusable bags (VERY popular), tuna pouches (with a plastic fork or spoon) and socks. Also, if you can afford to add $1-$2 or a small McDonald’s gift card (has the most locations), that’s popular too.
Me and 8 yr daughter are putting some bags together with blankets. She loves doing this year round.