For our third month of Making the World a Little Sweeter, we will be helping the homeless and/or stranded. You know the ones- they sit on the side of the road with their cardboard sign that says “Trying to get home. Anything helps” (or something equally as heart-rending) and you rummage in your purse but then the light turns green and you haven’t found anything, and you have little pangs of guilt as you drive away. Sometimes you turn around and go back just so you can give them something, but other times you have nothing available, so you tell yourself for the hundredth time that you are going to put some things in the car that will be ready to grab and pass out the window.

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I know there are lots of different feelings out there about helping beggars/ panhandlers, but my own personal feeling is that I don’t know why they are in the situation they are in, and I don’t know what they are going to do with the handouts I give them, but I will help anyone who asks in whatever way I can so that my conscience will be clear. I believe I will one day be responsible for my actions, just as they will be responsible for theirs. So I don’t worry about whether or not they are going to use money I give them for purposes I may consider less- than- worthy. (That said, a guy approached me a few weeks ago straight out asking for $2 to buy some vodka…. I gave him a granola bar instead…) I’m not saying this approach is right for everyone and every circumstance, but think about it and decide what you are comfortable with, and feel good about doing.

So, as you may have guessed, this month we are going to put together some little packages that can be stored in your car or bag and can be quickly pulled out to give away to people in need. The beauty of this project is that there are so many different ways you can do this, taking into account your own personal circumstances and beliefs.

Here are some ideas:

  • A granola bar or other food item rubber-banded with a small amount of cash (whatever you feel is realistic and affordable for you), or perhaps a fast food gift certificate and an inspirational quote.

    • Raid your sock drawer and pull out all those long-mismatched socks. Tube socks would work great. Fill the sock with things like small cash bills, compact food items, sample soaps or toothpaste etc.

    • Personal care bag: people away from home or displaced are likely to be lacking some of the basic hygiene stuff we take for granted. You could pick up packs of these items at the dollar store and make several little bags to give. I made some drawstring bags using leftover fabric and grosgrain ribbon. I got an assortment of tissue packs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash (hey, I’m big on dental hygiene), deodorant, soaps, hand sanitizer, etc. I also have a good sized bag of hotel soaps and shampoos I have collected over time that are mostly unopened- and I bet you do too. Those would make a great addition, and you get to purge some of your bathroom clutter- win/win!

      Most of you probably already know how to make a simple drawstring bag, but in case there are any new seamstresses out there, here is a quick rundown:

      1. Find a rectangular scrap of fabric large enough to be a bag when it is folded in half.
      2. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and stitch the sides closed.
      3. Make a casing at the top for a drawstring by folding down the edge 1/2″, and then another 1″ and pressing. Unfold the top and add grommets or buttonholes through only one layer- these are the openings for the drawstring to come out.
      4. Fold top back down and sew all the way around for casing.
      5. Thread ribbon, shoelace, or other drawstring through holes. Ta-da!
      6. Start to finish = less than 10 minutes.

      It might be a good idea to compile a few local resources (i.e. for health care, food, shelter, mental health, job resources, etc) on a little card and add that to the package. Now, if you don’t sew, or want to take a simpler approach (because realistically, if this is something you continue, it may not be practical to sew another bag every time), why not just put the goodies in a ziplock bag and call it good?

      The last but very important step is this: when you are finished making your packages- whatever form they may take- remember to put them in your car/ purse/ bag/ whatever so you can easily and quickly pull one out next time you need it! I promise if you do this, you will bless someone’s life, and you will feel so good! 😀

      P.S. Be sure to enter our giveaway for a free crochet pattern!