By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most under-rated agent of human change; kindness that catches us by surprise bringing out the best in our natures. Bob Kerry
A brilliant friend of mine who is the mother of an amazing 6-year old daughter has started a family tradition. Every December they, along with 7 other families, put together and give away blessing bags for the homeless. Here is how she describes it
“Every family brings 30 items. Then we have a party. We lay it all out and everyone makes their bags from the items everyone bought. It’s fun and the kids get to talk to each other about what it was like when they got to hand out bags. I also read two books to them about being homeless. It was a great way to explain homelessness to our young children. We talk about how some problems we can’t solve but we can still make a difference in the lives of some people who are struggling. You can make a difference no matter your age or size.
“Here in Rhode Island we see a a lot of homeless people at intersections who are holding signs. Before we started this project our kids would ask about these folks and of course were upset to learn some people don’t have homes. This is especially distressing during our cold winters. Our children would ask a lot of good questions about it. We parents felt it was important to help our children feel more empowered to help.
“I saw a pin on Pinterest about this project so organized the 7 families to make the blessing bags. One of the children suggested we add a little piece of art so people would have something beautiful to look at. All the children liked this idea. It feels more personal for the kids to add something they made.
“This project is something I am passionate about. In college I worked in a homeless shelter doing overnights. I can feel overwhelmed and hopeless about the problem of homelessness. But handing out these blessing bags, little gifts of comfort, also helps me!”
Here is what they put in their bags:
Hand warmers, socks, high protein snacks (larabars, peanut butter and cracker packs, beef jerky or tuna bags) fruit cups, toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss donated from dental professionals, leftover Halloween candy from the children, a picture drawn by a child, and printed brochures of the local shelters listed, as well as places to get hot meals, and food pantries. We also make a few bags that have sanitary pads and tampons for the women we see.
Caring for others is consistently listed as a practice to improve Mental Health & Happiness. Perhaps this mother and daughter team can inspire your own act of kindness that will not only help the life of someone else, it will also improve your own Mental Health & Happiness.*
*Thank you Amanda and Willow Campbell for telling me your story and inspiring this blog.