ISP’s FIRST Monthly Challenge – Blessing Bags. Meaningful, Interactive, Inexpensive But Have So Much Impact

 

blessing bags 4
photo credit google images

 

As we enter our month campaigning for kindness – I would like to introduce some great crusaders, stories and guest bloggers. The funniest Mom blogger I know, Courtney from Stop Yapping, is our contributor to kick-off our monthly challenge. Here is how she does it. Thanks so much Courtney! xoxo

“I’m hungry.”

“I’m starving.”

“What can I have?”

“I’m LITERALLY starving Mom.”

“If I were to think about eating lunch, what would you suggest?”

“Is there any food in this house?”

I hear this about 10 times a day from my husband and 3 young, growing boys.  All this complaining and nagging at me always makes me think how lucky we are.  “There are starving kids in Africa” comes to mind and I know how much my kids and myself included, take our food  for granted.  I have stocked our fridge and pantry with unlimited amounts of food and I realize it is me who has taught my kids to always expect there to be enough food for them.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I also need to teach them that we are more fortunate than probably 99% of the world.  Not only are there starving kids in Africa, but there are starving people right here.

Since I got married and especially since having kids, I have always used coupons.  It just seemed like a no-brainer to save a little money.  I would buy a Sunday newspaper and match up the coupons to the store ads.

But a few years ago, the show “Extreme Couponing” came out I thought I should step up my game.  So I followed all the blogs, printed every internet coupon I could find and chased every deal.  But then I realized that more is less.  I was spending so much time and  money on things I never would have bought.  I would drive around to 6 different stores tying to get the best deal.

So I focused on a couple  of my favorite stores and narrowed it down to few printable coupon sites. Since this blog post is for one of the amazing non-profits out there I should mention one coupon site I really like is Common Kindness. When you register and print coupons from their site, the charity of your choice receives a % of sponsor fees from corporations. It’s free of charge to the consumer and the non-profit. If  you wish to give the Infinite Smile Project a little boost their reference code to select them as your preferred charity is 1451215.

It didn’t take long before I had a small stock-pile that eventually turned into a giant stockpile.   As much as I loved having 60 boxes of cereal, 100 bottles of shampoo/conditioner, 80 razors and 25 boxes of granola bars, I knew I needed to start donating some of it. So I looked around for a local donation center.

 

blessing bags 12

I would pack the kids in the car and bring a few boxes to donate.  As I tried to explain to them what we were doing, they couldn’t really picture what happened to the items after we dropped them off. They couldn’t get the connection between us, the warehouse and the needy people. It got me thinking that maybe there was a more personal way we could help.  Something that my kids could help with.

I was talking to my husband about what to do with all our extras, and he came up with a great idea. He is a Firefighter and asked if we could make up some bags for the homeless  people he sees everyday.

So Blessing Bags were formed.

My kids and I went through my stockpile and picked out what to put in the bags.  We lined up all our supplies and started stuffing the bags.

 

blessing bags 2

We included water, granola bars, cans of tuna and crackers, candy, a new pair of socks and travel size toiletries.  Basically we stuffed anything we could think of into a gallon size Ziploc bag.  I added up the cost of each bag and they were about $2 each.

We gave my husband about 10 to take with him to work.  He gave away 3  alone just when he stopped for a cup of coffee on his way to work.  He put the rest on the fire truck and Paramedic van.

blessing bags 15

Blessing Bags samples once packaged to keep in your car

blessing bags

photo credit google images

 

them in the bags and Dad gives them to the needy.

We loved hearing the stories of how, when and who he gave them to and their reactions to the bags.

I also like to keep a couple of the bags in my car so I can give them to the homeless people on the corners or the freeway off ramp.  My kids get to see generosity and it always leads to a long conversation about homelessness and how giving to people who are needy is a good thing.  That conversation always leads to us talking about being grateful and happy with what we have.

blessing bags 6

photo credit example from blairblogs.com

So as I donate my time, money and energy, I realize it is more than a “bag of stuff” I am giving.  It is a little bag of love from me and my kids.  I get to teach my kids that love and generosity come in big packages and huge dollar amounts but also in gallon size amounts too.  Nothing is too small when you give with love.  And being able to give is the best feeling in the world! A close second is getting a box of granola bars for .25!

Now get out there and give some love!

blessing bags 5

 

 

Courtney was born and raised in Orange County, California where she lives with her dreamy firefighter husband and ridiculous, hyper, dirty sons. Follow her shenanigans at… Stop Yapping!  or her media handles:

Instagram: @stopyappingatme          Twitter: @stopyappingatme      Facebook: Stop Yapping