Bags of Hope

As you know I have been volunteering at the local homeless shelter for a number of years now. In their brochure is one way we can help those who are on the streets, and that is to offer a Bag of Hope. I’m sure you’ve seen the men and women on the street corners holding up signs asking for money or food. Honestly, it isn’t a good idea to give them cash. Many of them have addictions and your money could be used for more alcohol or drugs.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2a5/46532751/files/2014/12/img_7238.jpgBut what is a good idea, is to have a Bag of Hope in your car, ready to give to someone in need. The gallon sized bags have soap, Kleenex, hand wipes, wash cloth, socks, water, snacks, such as granola bars and crackers and maybe even a gift card to an area fast food restaurant. I knew the women at my church would want to do this, so I organized a small group of women to get a tour of the Miracle Hill Homeless Shelter, have a meal of soup and to put the bags together.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2a5/46532751/files/2014/12/img_7240.jpgBecky, the women’s director of MH, spoke about the types of women who normally stay at the shelter. They come from every socio-economic level, many have addictions and mental illness. Some have been abused or have just fallen on hard times. She could be any of us at any time. Miracle Hill provides a safe, christian and structured environment for the men and women to rest, recover and get back on their feet.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2a5/46532751/files/2014/12/img_7241.jpgThe women from my church brought with them items that could be put into the bags.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2a5/46532751/files/2014/12/img_7242.jpgWe laid it all out and started filling the bags. The original list included toilet paper. Well, I got the big rolls which were really too big for the gallon sized bags. The list also included soap. Dumb me got Irish Spring. Do you know what a strong scent that is? Don’t use it for this purpose. It ends up making the packaged food taste like leprechauns and green hills.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/2a5/46532751/files/2014/12/img_7243.jpgWe pulled all of the soap out of the packages and donated them to the mission. This made sweet Angie very happy! Pennies Of Time Blog wrote this great post about the bags she made with her children. The idea of using smaller sizes makes so much more sense.

Yesterday morning as I was leaving Panara, I saw a gentleman walking across the parking lot with a backpack. I pulled up beside him and offered him one of my Bags of Hope. He was surprised and very thankful. I’m so glad I had one in my car.

Then, later that day, I was getting off the highway and sitting several cars back from the stoplight. I saw an older man standing on the side by the intersection. I wished I had another bag to give him. Then as the light turned green and I was pulling through, I saw that he was eating some crackers from a gallon sized ziplock bag! AWESOME!!!

Bags of Hope
Gallon size ziplock bags.
Hand wipes.
Soap. (Many haven’t had a bath in many days or weeks. They want to be clean.)
Washcloths.
Toothbrush/toothpaste
Non-alcohol mouthwash.
Socks (A very appreciated gift)
Deodorant
Fast food gift card
A card with information about the homeless shelter, The Soup Kitchen and a nearby church. These are called Bags of Hope. We pray the people receiving them will not only see kindness from a stranger, but will see that there is hope in their lives. There are places nearby with a warm bed, good food and spiritual nourishment.

Well, thanks for dropping by!

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Living Out That Crazy Love: Tina

Back at the end of May, I told you about a girl named Margo who shows some crazy love at the homeless shelter, Miracle Hill. Well, there is another friend of mine that has stepped out of her comfort zone and is showing some crazy love.

20130714-135200.jpg Tina is a mother of three and wife to Eric. She volunteers at the local animal shelter and dedicates a lot of time at the children’s schools. Her life was very full and yet, she felt like something was missing. Like many of us, she has all the luxuries of a nice neighborhood, home, healthy children and loving husband, but she felt a tug on her heart that there was something “more”. And it wasn’t more material things, but more value in how she spent her energies.

Tina’s faith began to flourish when she began attending B.S.F.- Bible Study Fellowship at a local church. This once a week, intensive bible study not only increased her knowledge of the bible, but increased her love for God. While driving with a friend one day, she lamented how she wanted to do more with her life, but didn’t know where to start. Her friend suggested Miracle Hill, where she knew many from her church volunteered. Tina showed up the next day to offer her time and talents.

20130714-140705.jpgI first met Tina when she showed up to babysit the children of the moms I worked with in Parenting Classes. What a blessing it was for the moms to know their children were loved and well taken care of for 30-45 minutes. Although not every week there are children, Tina still comes and sits in on the classes to support me and offer solid, motherly advice.

20130714-141235.jpgOnce a month, Tina provides free haircuts to the ladies at Miracle Hill. For many of the women, they haven’t had a haircut in a year or more. Yet, like any of us, they just feel so much better after having their hair professionally shaped.

20130714-141618.jpgMaybe its a trim or maybe a simple color touch-up, but no matter what, she is there with a smile and gives so much kindness and love.
Mother’s Day, this past May, Tina stepped away from her celebration and drove a new mom from shelter to the hospital so she could visit with her baby in NICU.

20130714-142337.jpgTina confessed to me one morning as we were walking to our cars, how she usually leaves Miracle Hill in tears. Her husband even suggested that maybe this wasn’t the place for her to be if she was going to be upset every time she came. Although heart broken for the pain the women experience, she knew that she was here to stay. In fact, Tina and I are signing up for Christian counseling classes so we can better understand and serve the clients.

Christians like to play it safe. We like to love and be around others like us. It’s easier that way. But what if more of us were like Tina? What if more of us stepped out of our comfort zone and started loving on those who might have addictions? Or difficult lives? What if we gave fully of ourselves even when it hurt? What if we did that one thing that God is asking us to do, even if our friends try to convince us to otherwise? What if we used the talents God gave us to serve others and not ourselves?

What if? What a lovely place it would be.