Most of us who camp, do so because we enjoy being outdoors. However, there are those who find themselves homeless or transient, who must camp to survive. I will see some of these hungry people at busy intersections holding a sign asking for a helping hand.
I have mixed emotions driving past them….do I make eye contact, give a smile, hand them the banana in my lunch bag, or avoid looking at them altogether?
After talking to friends involved with food bank organizations or rescue missions, I decided to follow their suggestions for how to have a helpful response, by creating a simple package to hand out when I meet someone holding up an “anything will help” type of sign.
Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa.
I have dubbed these small tokens of kindness, “Camper Care Bags.” If you like this idea, here are some ideas for you to make up your own goodie bags.
Packing tips and ideas
For my bags, I want to be sure to include something to encourage their soul, such as a “Daily Bread” devotional booklet, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or a pocket-sized “Bible Promises book.”
The dollar store can really make your budget stretch to fill a care bag. Remember to keep items small as these campers don’t have a means for storing food or bulky items.
Use a clear gallon zip-lock type bag, so the contents are visible to help the person feel safe to take your bag as you hand it to them. We keep our filled Camper Care Bags in both our truck camper and car to have handy to give while on the road.
Don’t forget the dog campers
Often times these folks will have a dog companion with them. I also put together a little goodie bag just for these faithful friends. A bottle of water, a collapsible water dish, and easy to chew treats are easy to throw together in a bag just for them.
Here is a list of items to get you rolling:
- Bottle of water
- Soft, heavy socks
- Dried fruit, nuts, granola bars
- Bathing wet wipes
- Travel toothbrushes with toothpaste
- Body or foot powder
- Gift certificate for Subway, McDonald’s, or hot meal available nearby
- Beanie hat
- Hand warmers
- Lip balm
- Pocket New Testament or devotional booklet
- Hot chocolate packets or tea bags
- Ramen or quick-cooking dry soups
- Address for your local food pantry, warming center, soup kitchen, etc.
I realize this small act does not do anything to address the issue of homelessness. That is its own complicated issue and therefore not my intent to fix or judge. I simply want to encourage and recognize another fellow human being by sharing the love and blessings God has given to me.
I’d love to hear your own ideas on what to pack in a care bag or stories of how this small act of kindness helps the next time you encounter someone in need.