Small Care Packages | Ways to Help the Homeless

Small Care Packages | Ways to Help the Homeless

Care Pack Project


The other day, my friend Ashlee blogged about putting together care packets for the homeless. She was inspired by her friend (who was inspired by Pinterest, it seems!) and I was inspired by all of them.


Most people have reservations about giving cash to someone begging on a street corner. I am not sure I agree it is wrong, but there are definitely times I don’t feel it is right for us to do. However, when someone is asking, I feel we should always give in a way that is helpful.


It is not our place to judge how someone got on the street, but it should be our place to encourage them in any way we can. Inspiration today can trigger something that may even be helpful years down the road. You never know what the ripple effect of your actions will be (the best part of a ripple is that we may never see the rings far away, and it is so much purer that way). That is why we need to always be present in our communities, no matter how small of an action we may think we are doing.


Ashlee and friends have given the gift of an idea almost all of us can do for others- small care packages.


Fill ziplock bags with nonperishable items and keep it in your car, so when someone is asking for money you can hand them a care package instead.


The boys loved helping shop and organize the bags.



They also made cards to put in each one.


Here is what we put in each bag:


  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Bandages
  • Soap
  • Washcloth
  • Emergen- C
  • Tuna/chicken salad cracker kits
  • Cliff bars
  • Bottled water
  • Advil
  • A few quotes along with the boys’ cards
  • List of local homeless resources


Have you ever noticed we attempt to separate ourselves from people we consider “tainted”  or “dirty?” There is something that makes us fearful (sometimes, understandably) of groups of people like the homeless. Unfortunately, it is widening the divide and hurting people on both sides. Something as easy as passing out a package from your car window may be a great first step in bringing our community (all of us) closer together.

We need to remember our actions are shaping the quiet little minds in the backseat. By avoiding eye contact and  pretending we don’t see who is clearly there, we are teaching our children to shun an entire group of people. They need community with people who will love and help them as much as the rest of us! Regardless of their circumstances that placed each person where they are, we are to love and uplift one another.

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Write a comment
  1. Michelle 30 November, 2012, 20:38

    I LOVE this idea. Love. Totally going to do it. There are plenty of places we walk where we pass folks who would need one too.

    Reply this comment
  2. Zoe - SlowmMama 1 December, 2012, 07:08

    What a great project to do with kids — stealing it one of these days! :-)

    Reply this comment
  3. Tera 1 December, 2012, 09:35

    Perfect in every way. Thank you.

    Reply this comment
  4. Paala 1 December, 2012, 10:04

    What a wonderful idea! And a personal card from a child included too? That is so sweet.

    Reply this comment
  5. Paala 1 December, 2012, 10:11

    Oh and I meant to say, how very applicable this act of kindness is to the holiday season. I’ve noticed a significant increase in homeless people sitting around or holding signs and asking for money on every street corner here in Oakland since Thanksgiving. I know the cold weather and rain is a big problem for a lot of cities too.

    Reply this comment
  6. Hannah 1 December, 2012, 10:12

    One thing we have found with the local drifters/homeless we have met – is that if we give them water or generic “homeless person” things they will thank us and say “no”, or take it and throw it away when we have left our conversations. I know the city we are in has a few great resources for the basic needs of the homeless community- and I know (having worked very closely to the homeless in a large west coast city) that this is not always the norm…but I wanted to mention it. The few homeless people my husband and daughters (they tag along) have met they appreciate is being asked what would bless them…one or their aquaintances loves pepsi and American hoagies from the local grocery…if your city has good resources (shelters/drop in etc) just pulling off if you see them holding a sign and asking they would like you to grab them some thing from the local grocery…or if they need anything. and remember to keep it light- they have to carry everything they have with them all.the.time. if it isn’t going to immediately benefit them, many will just chuck it.

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  7. Alyssa H. 1 December, 2012, 11:05

    Great list! I would also add fresh socks. Someone told me that when they spent a week on the streets the best gift given was clean socks.

    Reply this comment
  8. Cap 1 December, 2012, 11:42

    Thank you for posting this. Offering help of some kind to anyone who asks is a beautiful sentiment. I live in a smaller town in the Midwest and rarely encounter people that I know are homeless, but I won’t forget this for the future. I think you were wise to include vitamin C and protein for basic nutritional needs along with hygiene supplies, which have a multitude of benefits.

    Reply this comment
  9. Allison 1 December, 2012, 18:13

    I will be copying this idea! LOVE LOVE LOVE! Whenever I have groceries or random food in my car and see someone I give them what I have on hand, but this is so clever and kind! It’s wonderful how the kids were brought into it and when my daughter is old enough, this is just the kind of thing I want her to learn. We can’t just ignore things we don’t want to see.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ellie {Musing Momma} 11 December, 2012, 11:00

    AWESOME!!! We are planning to stop by our local drop-in shelter Monday night while a friend is volunteering to bring goodie bags (and show our boys caring-in-action), but I absolutely love this idea of always having something on hand to give and you have given me some great ideas for items to add to our goodie bags!!!

    Reply this comment
  11. Jessica 31 December, 2012, 15:02

    I often keep juice boxes or granola bars in the van for handing out. I really like the idea of the little bags though. I’ve seen it a few times on Pinterest myself.

    Reply this comment
  12. David Navarre 21 January, 2013, 06:10

    Brilliant idea. I think I’ll bag some and start carrying them in the truck.

    Reply this comment
  13. Susie Q. Finley 21 January, 2013, 08:37

    My friend does this in Albuquerque. Feedback from the people she gives to told her to also include, in addition to what you show on your blog, breath mints and deodorant. The recipients said that they want to smell good when they look for a job or receive services! That is encouraging!

    Reply this comment
  14. Jennifer karaya 28 January, 2013, 18:15

    What an amazingly simple idea that creates such an impact. Our family will be doing this and maybe including a gift certificate to a fast food place. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply this comment
  15. Karen Schanding 11 March, 2013, 20:04

    I would add wet wipes that don’t have a baby smell for easy personal hygiene. I agree with adding socks. My friend who lives in downtown Atlanta keeps a box full of socks in the passenger seat of his car. He rarely gets complaints when he offers them.

    Reply this comment
  16. Tammy Vazquez 29 April, 2013, 12:34

    What a beautiful idea. Thank you for sharing. :)

    Reply this comment
  17. jade 18 May, 2013, 20:37

    Thank you so much for this. I had a woman ask me for money in front of my children recently and stumbled all over myself trying to handle it gracefully in front of them. It’s bothered me since, and this is the answer I was looking for. Much thanks.

    Reply this comment
  18. Julie 16 July, 2013, 12:23

    Speaking as somebody who was homeless for a period of time when I was younger and part of the “street kid” culture, there is something a lot of people trying to help don’t know. Many homeless people have pets. Whether they had a dog or cat that came with them, or a small ferret or a pet rat, often when they are asking for money on the street corner, it’s not for food for themselves, it’s for their companions. A small giftcard for 5 dollars to a local pet shop would be a thing you could include for people that have animals to feed them. Just a thought.

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  19. Judith Martinez 16 July, 2013, 12:59

    There is a homeless outreach here in Denver that has a very high success rate and they strongly discourage giving money based on their experience reaching the homeless.. They offer donors booklets that are good for showers and meals at their building. You can buy the booklets and pass them out to the people on the streets instead of money. Those would be great to add to a kit like this.

    Reply this comment
  20. Dorothy Mauro 17 October, 2013, 12:56

    I can’t wait to go to NYC this year so I can hand these out. I remember last year when we went to see the tree I saw a homeless person and dog and I gave her the jacket off my back. the dog pulled my heart strings! <3

    Reply this comment
  21. Vanessa 14 May, 2014, 14:26

    I love this and I love that you had your children involved. You’re teaching them a very valuable lesson. And you’re inspiring more people just like you were inspired by your friend who was inspired by pinterest who was inspired by who know (speaking of the ripple effect). Having a friendly conversation and just asking their names can make his/her day too. Be safe and conscious, but do not forget that everyone needs someone and everyone needs hope and love!

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