Blessing Bags

If there is a needy person among you . . . you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand . . . but you shall surely open your hand . . and lend him a sufficient amount for his need and what he is asking for.
— Deuteronomy 15:7-8

Blessing Bags are bags filled with items meant to help individuals who are living on the street. These bags often contain socks, lotion, non-perishable food items, and other personal hygiene items.

At JVC, we think that Blessing Bags are important because they encourage campers and their families to think about, and hopefully talk with, individuals who may be living on the street. We believe that treating people with respect and dignity is essential for meaningful and authentic volunteering- taking a moment to roll down your window and having a conversation with someone asking for help is a first step to treating them with respect and understanding the challenges they may be facing.

There are different perspectives on Blessing Bags and if giving them out is the right thing to do or best way to engage your family in service. Consider reading these two articles- one that supports Blessing Bags and one that does not, so that you can form your own opinion.

Questions for Thought:

  • Think of a time when you were in need of help. How was your need met and how did it make you feel? Was it easy to accept help? How can help best be offered?
  • Both writers identify systemic issues of inequality as being at the root of poverty and homelessness. What is our responsibility to act on the immediate needs that we see and also to respond to the system issues at play?
  • Kim Marin writes that in delivering a blessing bag from her car, she had a quick conversation with the recipient. Does this change the equation in terms of the value of the blessing bag? How might that encounter deepen the impact for both the recipient and the donor?
  • In the Lilya Rayne article, the original writer argues that while well-intentioned, the blessing bags may allow the donors to believe they’re doing more good than they are.  What, if anything, can be done to address that concern?

Blessing Bags are a great project to add to a party or any other gathering to infuse it with greater meaning. JVC calls these Parties with Purpose, and we’d be happy to tell you more and help you plan the perfect party. Learn more here and contact Alexandra Ade (aade@associated.org) with questions and interest!

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