Blessing Bags for Homeless – Comprehensive Guide

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Originally published February 7, 2018 and updated December 6, 2022 and December 14, 2023.

For years my family has made blessing bags for the homeless. Many of us see people in need and want to help, but we’re not sure how. Creating gift bags are a simple yet impactful way to provide essentials to those who need them most. This comprehensive guide, including for cold weather care, will help you make a positive and meaningful impact on your community.

You can make these to hand out yourself or to donate to a homeless shelter. This is a great project to do with children or with as a group activity.

clear plastic bags filled with donation gift ideas and contents scattered in front with title text reading Blessing Bags for the Homeless Cold Weather Care

Did you know that every night, over half a million Americans sleep homeless on the streets or in shelters? 

I’ve worked with homeless teens and with homeless adults. Homelessness is tough for so many reasons, but it’s incredibly difficult in cold weather. Dealing with freezing temperatures is not only uncomfortable and inconvenient, it can be harmful and even deadly. 

Many years ago, my family started a tradition of making homeless care kits as a family activity. It’s important to me to teach my children about caring for others in our community. Making these blessing bags is a wonderful and concrete way to encourage helping others. It’s a great opportunity to talk with children about the needs of and issues facing homeless people

What Are Blessing Bags

Blessing bags are care packages filled with essential items that are distributed to those experiencing homelessness. They are important because they provide basic necessities and comfort to those in need, showing compassion and support for the homeless community.

Definition of Blessing Bags

Blessing bags are compact care gifts crafted with a compassionate purpose, aimed to provide essential items to individuals who are experiencing homelessness. The package typically contains basic necessities such as toiletries, non-perishable food, and warm accessories that cater to the immediate needs of those living on the streets or in shelters.

Creating these bags a way to help with practical aid  and share an act of kindness. that sends a powerful message – one of hope and empathy. 

Purpose of Blessing Bags for Homeless

The primary goal is to offer immediate relief and support to those without shelter by providing basic necessities that many of us take for granted.

By providing essentials through these kits, you contribute can help bridge the gap between community resource and immediate needs while showing that everyone deserves care and respect.

Items to Include in a Blessing Bag Kit

Gift bags offer more than just material items; they provide a sense of dignity and human connection. By receiving a  bag, individuals experiencing homelessness are reminded that they are worthy of care and kindness. The contents can also address immediate needs and provide comfort in difficult circumstances.

They have the potential to spark hope and inspire individuals. The act of giving a gift bag can foster empathy and understanding within the community, prompting conversations about homelessness and ways to make a positive impact. The benefits of a thoughtfully curated gift bag extend beyond mere material value; they promote compassion, inclusivity, and empowerment for those in need.

You can create general care  bags for homeless that include items such as toiletries, non-perishable food and personal items. There are many options for helpful items to add to your care bag. You can choose general care items or themed items as suggested in the different types of care bags below. Always provide an encouragement cards to make the bags more meaningful.

Toiletries

Having the right toiletries provides a sense of dignity and basic hygiene for those living on the streets. 

piles of wash cloths, deodorant, combs, toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap
  • A durable toothbrush that has a protective case or is in a small plastic bag to keep it clean
  • Fluoride toothpaste, specifically for sensitive teeth
  • Antibacterial soap that comes in its own case or packaging to keep it clean during transport
  • Small bottles of shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant 
  • Small sized hand sanitizer 
  • Lip balm with SPF protection 
  • Disposable razors for personal grooming needs; these are compact and easy to use safely.
  • Menstrual hygiene products that are individually wrapped
  • Wet wipes as they’re versatile for freshening up skin, cleaning wounds, or wiping hands after eating
Each month, but particularly this time of year, I make a point of practicing purposeful (not random) acts of kindness and including my entire family in the activities. #JNJ, #IC [ad]

Personal Items

Include personal items in the blessing bags to provide warmth and comfort:

  • Thick pair of socks
  • Pair of gloves
  • Hat
    • Warm knit cap for winter
    • Baseball cap or sun hat for the summer
  • Blanket
  • Waterproof tarp

Non-perishable Foods

Items should be long-lasting, individually packaged and require no special tools for opening or preparation.

  • Granola bars
  • Crackers, especially cheese or peanut butter cracker packs
  • Trail mix
  • Dried fruit
  • Bottled water or juice

Free Printable Encouragement Cards

Brighten someone’s day by including an encouraging note or card. These heartwarming messages can bring hope and inspiration to those in need.

Use a free printable blessing bag card. Simply print them out, write a personal note, and include them in your blessing bags for an extra touch of kindness.

sheets of printed "take care" notes with pair of scissors
Sheet of pink heart cards and red scissors
Sheet of red hearts with text and pair of red scissors

To get my free Blessing Bag card printable, simply sign up for our free weekly newsletter. You’ll receive immediate access to printable card pdf. The colorful designs and thoughtful words will surely uplift the spirits of those receiving the blessing bags.


Different Types of Homeless Kits

Over the years I’ve volunteered with different people experiencing homelessness around the country. Every homeless community has different needs determined by weather, the specific environment and available resources for homeless individuals. The tips provided are from my personal experience in many different communities, however consider unique needs that may exist where you live.

  • For Winter
  • For Summer
  • Foot Care
  • Dental Care
  • For Women’s Needs
  • For Rain
  • Holiday-Themed

Homeless Care Packages for Winter

collage of items to put in blessing bag.

Winter comfort bags can be a vital lifeline for those facing harsh winter conditions on the streets. Winter blessing bags provide basic necessities like hygiene products and first aid supplies, these bags help individuals maintain their health and dignity while facing immense challenges during the coldest months of the year.

Ideas to fill a cold weather blessing bag for the homeless:

  • Warm hats: Knit hats that cover the ears are the best choice. Look for a variety of colors so that individuals can choose a favorite color. This is also a great opportunity to make warm hats yourself. If this is a group project, you can solicit donations of handmade hats.  
  • Scarves: This easy houndstooth crochet pattern scarf is my favorite to make. 
  • Gloves: Look for both thinner and heavier gloves so that they can be layered. Ideally, you’ll include one pair of thinner gloves and a pair of heavier gloves in each blessing bag. 
  • Rain Ponchos: You can find these in the camping section of your department store.
  • Heat Packs for feet and hands.
  • Lip Balm: Extreme temperatures are tough on exposed skin and that includes lips.
  • Hand Lotion: Chapped hands are an issue during cold weather.
  • Tissue Packs
  • Mints or Hard Candy: Everyone needs a treat and hard candy can also soothe a sore throat or cough.
  • Gift Card to Local Restaurant or Coffee Shop: A $5–$20 gift card allows an individual to seek shelter from the weather and enjoy a warm meal or drink. It also provides them access to a warm bathroom. 
  • A heartfelt note: Let your recipient know that you care. 

Homeless Blessing Bags for the Summer

Homeless individuals are particularly vulnerable during summer months, facing the challenges of extreme weather without access to basic necessities. By assembling these gift bags with care and consideration, we can make a meaningful impact during this challenging season. The provision of practical summer essentials not only helps maintain their physical well-being but also serves as a reminder that they are valued members of our community deserving compassion and support. 

Content Ideas:

  • Bottled Water: Staying hydrated is crucial during the summer months.
  • Sunscreen: Help protect skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Hat or Cap: Provide protection from the sun. 
  • Sunglasses: Help protect eyes from the sun’s glare.
  • Lip Balm: Provide relief and protection for dry and chapped lips
  • Moisturizing Lotion: The summer heat can be drying and lotion can protect skin.

  • Lightweight Clothing: Include a few lightweight clothing items like t-shirts or shorts
  • Sock: Lightweight, moisture-wicking socks protect feet in the heat.
  • Travel-sized Toiletries
  • Snacks, particularly hydrating snacks, such as fruit
  • Personal Care Items: Consider including items like wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and tissues.

Care Kits for the Homeless Foot Care

When you’re homeless, foot care becomes both more complicated and more critical. Socks are seldom donated items and yet much needed.

Foot care supplies with Red heart card

Content:

  • Colorful Socks: Who doesn’t need a little happy color in their life?
  • Thick Socks: Keeping feet warm during the winter and cushioned in older or ill-fitting shoes makes a world of difference.
  • Thin Socks: These are great for layering under thicker socks in cold weather.
  • Moleskin: This helps cushion skin from shoes that rub.

  • Bandages
  • Nail Clipper Set
  • Foot Warmers
  • Foot Powder
  • Wet Wipes
  • Note from you: The purpose of creating blessing bags is make a connection with a person and let them know that you care. Be sure to add a personal note to each and every bag. Having children draw a picture or write a heart-felt note is a beautiful encouragement. You can also print out notes and add them to your foot care blessing bags. 

Consider purchasing socks in different sizes. Be sure to mark the outside of the bags with the sock sizes. While you may take socks that you fit you properly for granted, many people experiencing homelessness treasure socks that fit well. It can be a true blessing.

Blessing Bags for Dental Care

A dental care bag for homeless people can make a profound impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Homeless individuals often lack access to basic hygiene and healthcare, which can take a toll on their oral health.

Gifting a dental car bag can contribute to reducing the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health problems that often plague the homeless community and can also improve the self-esteem and confidence of homeless individuals. It’s about both physical care and restoring dignity and respect to those who need it most.

Content:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Cover to keep toothbrush clean once the package is opened
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash

  • Denture adhesive (if applicable)
  • Dental picks
  • Dental pain relief gel or ointment
  • Sugar-free gum or mints for fresh breath
  • Bottled water for drinking and rinsing after brushing

Homeless Care Bags for Women’s Needs

The significance of providing women’s personal care bags cannot be overstated. As we all know, women often have unique needs when it comes to personal hygiene and health care. Ensuring that homeless women have access to essential items such as sanitary pads, feminine hygiene products, and feminine personal care items can make a tremendous difference in their well-being and dignity.  It communicates the idea that every woman, regardless of her current circumstances, deserves to feel valued and cared for. 

Content:

  • Feminine hygiene products (sanitary pads, tampons)
  • Soap or body wash in scents that she’ll enjoy
  • Shampoo and conditioner in scents that she’ll enjoy
  • Deodorant designed for women
  • Wet wipes or baby wipes
  • Comb or brush

  • Hair ties or hair clips
  • Lip balm designed for women
  • Lotion for women
  • Nail clippers and feminine nail file
  • Disposable razors for women
  • Socks in women’s sizes and styles

Tips for Making Blessing Bags

Place items in a zippered plastic bag to make them easy to store and hand out. It helps keep items clean in a difficult living situation. The bag can also be used for storage later. 

Plastic bag with warm weather supplies and heart card

When you go shopping, pay attention to numbers of items so that you have complete bags. With this cold temperatures, these blessing bags for cold weather are much needed. Please make as many as you can to help as many people as you can. 

Always add a brief, encouraging note.

  • Add a card with a handwritten note
  • This is also a wonderful opportunity for children to draw pictures or write sweet notes (with some adult guidance of appropriate messaging). What is more precious than a hand-drawn picture from a child?
  • Add a free printable note to your blessing bag. Simply sign up for our free newsletter and you’ll be able to print these notes out as many times as you’d like.

Make them with Your Family

The act of creating a care bags with your family instills empathy and kindness in your children. Assembling these bags as a family fosters a sense of social responsibility and compassion, teaching kids the value of giving back to the community. Moreover, it offers an opportunity for open dialogue about homelessness, poverty, and gratitude, helping children develop a deeper understanding of societal issues.

In addition to the tangible benefits for those in need, creating caring bags with your family also strengthens familial bonds. Collaborating on this project can bring your family closer together as you work towards a common goal of helping others. It provides meaningful moments where everyone can contribute their unique ideas and perspectives, fostering teamwork and unity within the family unit.

You can read about how we involved our young children in creating bags to give to people experiencing homelessness. We set up our items in stations and have our children “trick or treat” to fill their care bags. 

Make Them With a Scout Troop or Church Group

Creating care bags the homeless with a scout or church group can have a powerful impact on both the recipients and the group members. In addition to providing support to your community, it also fosters a sense of community and empathy among the participants. Working together to assemble these bags can teach valuable lessons about compassion and selflessness, instilling a spirit of service that extends beyond just one event. It also allows for shared experiences that can deepen relationships and create lasting memories

Host a Blessing Bag Stuffing Party

Hosting a blessing bag stuffing party with friends and family. This is an engaging way to involve others while spreading awareness about the needs of homeless individuals.

Set up stations for assembling toiletries, personal items, and  foods into bags and encourage guests to write encouraging notes for the recipients. Make it a fun event by playing music or providing snacks, all while creating care packages that can make a significant impact on those experiencing homelessness.

You might invite participants to bring specific items from the blessing bag kit list like toothbrushes, socks, or granola bars. Ensure everyone feels included and welcome as they contribute towards this meaningful cause.

Ways to Give Blessing Bags

Once you’ve created your homeless care kits, you’ll want to make sure that you distribute them to those in need in your community. There are several ways to hand out the homeless gift bags:

Where to Donate 

Always reach out to the organization in your area and coordinate a donation drop-off or inquire about their specific needs. 

  • Homeless shelters 
  • Local shelters treating substance abuse
  • Emergency groups
  • Groups working with homeless teens
  • Hand out to homeless people you interact with in your community – Always having these kits ready means you are prepared to help whenever the opportunity arises.
    • Keep a few pre-packed blessing bags in your car
    • You may want to keep one or two in your bag as you walk through the community
  • Veterans groups that work with homeless vets
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Food banks
  • Organizations providing hot meals (what used to be known as soup kitchens)
  • Elementary, junior high and high school counselors 

Homeless Care Package Checklist

By using a checklist, you can ensure that the items you include are not only practical but also tailored to the specific needs of individuals in your community. 
Utilizing a checklist makes sure you include the most effective items and avoid duplication of items. 

Create your own checklist or you can use this free blessing bag checklist by simply signing up for our free newsletter.

To get my free Blessing Bag Checklist printable, simply sign up for our free weekly newsletter. You’ll receive immediate access to printable checklist pdf.


Thanks for subscribing! You now have access to hundreds of free printables on the site when you log in. Here is your Homeless Blessing Bag checklist pdf.

Colorful  checklist for making blessing bags.

Now is the time to pack a blessing bag.  Let’s make a difference together.

Frequent Asked Questions about Homeless Bags for Winter

What items do homeless need most in winter?

Socks
Gloves
Hats
Scarves
Thermal underwear
Hand lotion
Coats
Blankets or sleeping bags
Money or gift cards
Lip balm
Waterproof tarp or plastic liner

What do you give homeless people in the cold?

Think about what is needed and what will improve comfort when living outdoors in extreme temperatures. Warm clothing, especially thermal socks, gloves and hats are always needed. Items for shelter and warmth are needed, such as a tent, tarp or plastic sheeting, blankets and quilts. Harsh winter weather takes a toll on exposed bodies so lotion, lip balm and pain ointments like Bengay are helpful. You can create homeless care kits in zippered plastic bags filled to meet basic needs in the cold weather.

What do you put in a homeless blessing bag?

Choose items that are easy to carry and easy to use. You can find many of these items at a dollar tree type store. Items such as:
– Non-perishable food, such as Granola bars Look for softer versions since many in the homeless populations deal with dental issues
– Individually packaged snacks
– Individually package or resealable packaging of fruit and nuts
-Toothbrush and brush case with small tube of toothpaste
– Personal hygiene items
– Individually wrapped hard candy and mints
– Baby wipes, hand wipes or hand sanitizer
Small first aid kit
Hair brush and comb
– Baseball hats or winter hats
– Warm clothing in winter
– Socks, athletic or winter weight (men’s and women’s)
– Gift card to fast food or coffee shop locations
Rain ponchos
Waterproof tarp
Waterproof reusable bag or backpack

What can I donate in winter?

Clothing for the winter season is expensive. Donate coats, hats, gloves, thick socks, heavy pants, sweat shirts and thermal underwear. Items to keep people warm such as sleeping bags ,mylar blankets and quilts. More protected shelter from snow and dampness is helpful; tents, waterproof tarps and umbrellas. Personal care items such as lip balm, hand lotion, tissues and small first aid kits are appreciated. Snack packs with filling individually wrapped food items.

More Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

For all my favorite purposeful acts of kindness ideas check out the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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5 Comments

    1. Every time I want to complain about being cold, I try to remember those who don’t have shelter from the cold and then do something to help. Donating clothes is a huge help, Sandy, (I know from working in a community charitable thrift store).

  1. This is really neat! You think of the greatest things to bless other people with! I like how you describe more about each item and where to find some of them. I have a FB friend who also really has a heart for the homeless and collects things to take to them.

  2. I would like to start giving out homeless personal bags to men and especially women and teens. How do I get started. Can I do 50C? I also would like to give bags to nursing homes, a cancer patients. Maybe start a fund raisers to help

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