By Emily M.
- clean white ankle-length socks
- New Testament and/or Biblical tracts
- hair comb
- chap stick
- travel shampoo
- travel conditioner
- hand wipes
- toilet paper
- soft granola bars
- snack pack of peanuts
- notepad and pen
- stir-in water flavor
- beef jerky
- bottled water
The Rennells always carry four or five Blessing Bags in their vehicles. They hand them out with a simple, "Hi, how are you? Would you like a Blessing Bag?" to anyone who looks like they are in need. This week we've seen Ed meet people on the street corner, at a gas station, and in the park in downtown Fort Collins to hand them a Blessing Bag.
The idea for Blessing Bags evolved over the years of ministry the Rennells and Meredith have been doing in Colorado. From many "Donuts with Friends" events in Fort Collins, the need for clean socks and certain daily items became evident. It started as "hygiene bags" given out once or twice a month and various items kept in the car to hand out when they saw a need. Eventually the idea for the Blessing Bag solidified into one item to be kept handy at all times.
Having a Blessing Bag or two in your car is an excellent way to do something for the homeless now. You can give them to anyone you meet who has a need. Including the right items (things that will keep over time and in the hot and cold) allow these bags to be stored long-term in your car, ready for use whenever you see the need.
I picked up a toothbrush to put it in a bag and I thought, “What if I couldn’t brush my teeth anymore?” and “How would my life change if I didn’t have anything? How would I respond?” These questions make me think about how much we all take things for granted."
A Blessing Bag seems like such a small thing to give. Physically it is small. It is filled with “small” things, travel-sized items because homeless people are on the move so frequently. Thankfully this world is more than physical. Spiritually, the Blessing Bag is a big deal.
I always laughed – and not politely – at corporate America’s buzzword lingo of “synergy” – theoretically this is the concept that one product (or team) can add up to more than the sum of it’s parts. I’ve always objected to this from a mathematical perspective. There’s no way 1+1 > 2. I still think that is true in all matters physical, but with the Blessing Bags I can see that synergy applies. Each bag represents so much more than just shampoo + soap + toothbrush + toothpaste + tissues + snacks + a handwritten note.
A Blessing Bag is a hand stretched out to help a person stand up when they’ve just fallen down. It is a life raft thrown into an ocean that seems overwhelming and discouraging. The homeless person might fall again, might be thrown back into the ocean. And that might happen as soon as we leave their presence. But in that instant that they see the care put into each bag, they are loved in a way they can’t ignore.