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Give Happiness – Homeless Care Package

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close up of clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with treats with a red bow and tag that says "Pull tab for a smile Happy Holidays" and candy and treats on wood table

About ten years ago we started a family tradition of creating care kits to give to the homeless in our community. When we started, my children were 4, 8 and 11 years old and it was a family activity we shared on Thanksgiving day. There’s always those four to five hours between when we get the food started and when we finish up the cooking. That’s a perfect time period for a family activity, especially an activity to encourage giving back to our community. Giving a homeless care package with a bit of whimsy is fun to make and will bring a smile to the recipient. Making these care packages allows us to focus on spending some quality family time together, too. The best part about this give happiness homeless care package it allows you to give in two ways at the same time with #GiveHappiness. 

close up of clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with treats with a red bow and tag that says "Pull tab for a smile Happy Holidays" and candy scattered on wood table

I’ve volunteered in a shelter for homeless teens and also at a food pantry for families in need. I’ve seen first-hand the needs that exist in our community. I’ve also seen that often there’s not much fun and whimsy in the life of the homeless. This time of year is about giving, caring and generosity and also should be about fun, excitement and whimsy. Packaging a homeless care package in an unusual container is a simple way to give a practical gift and also give a smile, to feed the body and to feed the heart at the same time.

Homeless Care Package

This whimsical homeless care package is easy to make and only takes about 5 minutes to create and decorate.

The only supplies you needs are:

2-liter bottle, rinsed well and dried (you can completely dry it after the first step below)

Utility knife, with a sharp blade

Cutting board

Washi tape

Card stock paper or gift tag

Marker

filled 2-liter bottle of Coca-cola and empty bottle next to cutting board, knife,  roll of green washi tape and roll of red polka dot washi tape

Ribbon 

overhead view of hands holding empty soda bottle and cutting the middle

Make sure that an adult carefully cuts the bottle open. Please be careful because the bottle will bend a bit as you add pressure to cut the plastic.  You want to cut around the bottle, leaving a hinge of about 3 inches still attached. I used the bottom of the label as a cutting guide. Once the bottle can be opened, be sure to completely dry the inside of the bottle. Remove the label. 

I like to take my children shopping with me for the contents of our care kits. We discuss what type of care kit we want to make. I encourage my children to brainstorm what types of items people would like to receive. We also add a handmade picture or note to each care kit. It’s a great way for your children to add a personal touch to each care package. 

You can make a variety of care kit themes:

Snack Kit – A drink,  tuna or other protein, dried fruit, salty snack, granola bars, dry cereal, peanut butter crackers, hard candy

Breakfast Kit – Can or pouch of juice, dry cereal, tea bag,  dried fruit, granola bar, peanut butter crackers or cheese crackers

Personal Care Kit – Toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion, lip balm, disposable razor, soap, shampoo, deodorant, carrying case for toothbrush and soap, wet wipes

Cold Weather Kit – Gloves, socks, hat, lotion, lip balm, hard candy, wipes, peanut butter or cheese crackers, granola bars, tissues, drink

variety of small snacks scattered on table, things like boxes of raisins, candy, bum can of soda, packet of tuna and small box of cereal

We chose to make Snack Care Packages. It’s important to include food items that are shelf stable and easy to transport. I also think it’s important to add some treats to the care package. I think this Santa can of Coca-cola is adorable and sure to bring a smile. Adding hard candy is a nice treat but also works to soothe a sore throat. 

overhead view of red can of soda, hat and gloves with tag, small packet of tissues, package of crackers, box of raisins and black and purple socks

We also chose to make Cold Weather Care Packages. Choose dark colored hat, socks and gloves because dirt won’t show as much. We added a cute Santa Coca-Cola can and candy to this care kit, too.

overhead view of snacks in clear 2-liter soda bottle with green washi tape wrapped around cut middle of bottle

Once you’ve collected your items, pack the items into the care kit and fill the extra spaces with the hard candies. Seal the bottle shut with washi tape. 

close up of clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with treats with a red bow and tag that says "Pull tab for a smile Happy Holidays" and hand holding tab

Fold the final edge of the the Washi tape to make a pull tab. You want the care package to be fun to open not a frustrating challenge. 

Give Happiness Homeless Care Package

close up of clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with treats with a red bow and tag that says "Pull tab for a smile Happy Holidays" and candy scattered on wood table

Add a bow and a tag.  You can donate these homeless care packages to your local homeless shelter or hand them out yourself. In addition to helping with these homeless care packages, you can help by purchasing a Walmart Deli prepared meal with Coca-cola. This year Coca-Cola at Walmart has teamed up with The Salvation Army and every Walmart Deli prepared meal with Coca-Cola purchased in November and December will support Coca-Cola at Walmart in providing a meal to families through The Salvation Army.  These donated meals will allow families in need to enjoy a warm meal together this holiday season.  That’s two ways to help by making one homeless care package. 

Since I was already at Walmart to purchase the supplies for our homeless care kits, I decided to pick up a Walmart Deli prepared meal. I knew that the time I saved not having to prepare a meal could be spent with my family making these care kits (and building our important family tradition). 

I was able to find everything I needed at the Deli counter, including my family’s favorite rotisserie chicken and our new favorite kale and blueberry salad. Of course, I found the Coca-Cola products in the soda aisle. 

family of 4 at dinner table smiling and bottle of Coca-cola

My family enjoyed our meal together and talked about the people in our community that would receive the care packages we were making  (I enjoyed our meal even more since I saved myself time not having to prepare our meal!). Since most families’ schedules are extra busy during November and December, picking up a Walmart Deli prepared meal is an easy way to spend more time with your family rather than in the kitchen

clear 2-liter soda bottle filled with treats with a red bow and tag that says "Pull tab for a smile Happy Holidays" and candy and treats on wood table

Please join my family and share photos on social media of your family enjoying a prepared Deli meal from Walmart, including Coca-Cola using the #GiveHappiness hashtag. You can use your extra time to make homeless care packages and give happiness this holiday season. 

More Homeless Care Package and Blessing Bag Ideas:

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14 Comments

  1. What a lovely idea! The homeless are so appreciative of everything we do for them in our community. It would be such fun to gather friends to do this project and drop them off to the shelter.

    1. What a great idea, Monica, to make these with a church or volunteer groups. I’m off to figure out which of our community groups I can include in making more of these care packages.:)

  2. This has got to be the best care package I have ever seen. Nothing goes to waste in this great package. You have given so many great ideas for various packages too! I think I will make a few of these on Thanksgiving Day when my family is here and we will go out and find a few people who don’t have family and are in need of a little “care”.

    1. What a generous idea to head out on Thanksgiving day to hand out the care packages, Cynthia. I know it will bring a smile to faces.

  3. Thank you so much for this wonderful idea. I think I will make a few and store in the car for when I run into a homeless on the street. I don’t like to give them money so I usually just say a prayer for them; food and warm items along with a prayer could help them. Who knows.

    1. Enjoy spending the time with your son making this care package and sharing it with the woman in your neighborhood, Jamie. You’ll be making special memories for all of you.

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