Homeless Kits: How Helping Others Helps You, Too

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Making kits for the homeless might not seem all that thrifty, but it’s such a beautiful way to give back to your community. In fact, one of our core values as a family is volunteering and teaching our children to volunteer.

That said, part of a thrifty lifestyle is saving and making money in efficient and sometimes unique ways. This might mean shaving $10 off your grocery bill, renegotiating your cable (or cutting the cord all together), or starting up a side hustle walking dogs.

These are all great things that will improve your bottom line, but at a certain point, you need to reevaluate what is important to you if you truly want to become debt-free once and for all. If you live for your morning Starbucks routine, do you realize that dropping that $5/day coffee habit will save you $1,825 a year? Are you a smoker, because if so, that $7 a day is $2,555 a year up in smoke (literally!)

Evaluate the Essentials

Being aware of what we consider “essential” to our lives and what is ACTUALLY essential to our grandest dreams and fullest life is the first step towards really achieving those dreams. One great way to refocus yourself is to stop and look around you at those who may have significantly less than you.

Chances are good that if you live in a larger city, you have a fair amount of homelessness around you. While I’m not suggesting you compare your level of suffering to theirs, I will ask that you consider the concept of “essential” in light of their way of living versus your own. What do you throw out daily that could be of huge benefit to them? What do you refuse to give up weekly – like dinner out or that daily coffee run – that could drastically improve their life?

How Much Will It Cost?

I am not suggesting you completely alter your lifestyle for someone else, but just stop and think for a moment where that $5 coffee or breakfast or random goofy app on the Google Play store could go if you focused where you spent it. If you were spending $5/day on non-essentials, but cut 2 days a week out, you’d save $520 a year.

Would you significantly feel the loss of that “wasted” $10/week? Probably not – in fact, missing 2 of your 7 indulgences per week would make those other 5 more significant! In addition, you’d have another $520 to throw at a credit card or student loan or car payment. That’s a great deal!

But imagine for a moment that you socked away $5 a week and the other $5 you put towards improving the lives of those around you who are in poor circumstances. You’d still have a decent amount to pay off debt, you’d still NOT feel the sting of deprivation, and you’d be setting an example for your children and possibly DRASTICALLY helping someone else.

DIY Blessing Bags for the Homeless

During the winter, I like to create care packages for the homeless, but they are just as important during the summer. So I took my $5 to my local Aldi and looked at what I could get. A box of granola bars was $1.20 for 8, and a 24 pack of bottled water was $1.99. Add in a box of bandages and we’re at $5. This isn’t a lot, but hydration, some food, and some first aid can be a major deal when you’re living on the street.


blessing bags for the homeless

If you prefer to watch instead of read, check out my livestream below for this next part! —

If you were to get together with some friends/family and assign them each a $5-$10 grouping of items you could contribute a small amount but maximize the impact of each package.

Things to Include in a Homeless Kit

Some things we included were:

  • Hygiene products
  • Lip balm
  • Other non-perishable food items, like cereal bars, peanuts, dried fruit, trail mix, etc
  • T-shirts that would otherwise have been donated to Goodwill or thrown away. In addition, old ball caps or other hats are great during summer months.
  • Sunscreen
  • “Hot Hands”
  • We also printed out information on shelters, cooling centers, food banks, breadlines, and other places that help the homeless with day-to-day needs.

You can include a LOT in a gallon freezer bag, so turn to those for these kits. Again, Aldi or other cheaper grocers have those cheap. Pack each bag with essentials, and keep them in your car to give out as you come across someone in need.

Did you know you can change someone's life for less than $7?Click to Tweet

The Power of Giving

The power of a bunch of small sacrifices lumped together for a good cause can be dramatic, and not just in a dollars-and-cents sense. The impact of this giving can help alter your perception of what is necessary for you to be happy. It cultivates kindness and empathy in your children (and in yourself). It creates a sense of community and fosters responsibility. Thinking outside yourself creates perspective that is invaluable, and on top of everything else, you’re helping another person.

So trust me; the small self-denial it will take to give up some indulgence, even if it’s only scaling it back, is 100% worth it in the long run. You won’t miss it and you’ll be better in the long run for it.

Have you ever created a homeless kit before?

I’d love to hear other ideas/suggestions of what to include, post ’em in the comments below!

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. I love this with every ounce of me. I volunteered at the homeless shelter full time for a year (feeding breakfast and dinner) before leaving Canada and what I used to do for the peeps there was buy them cigarettes. Now I know this probably sounds ridiculous but many of them smoke butts off the ground or dig in ashtrays for butts. I can get a carton at the reserve for $15 and hand out 10 packs. It was always like Christmas for them when I did this. But fear not, I put food in their bellies too!! 🙂


  2. Hi There,

    I just came across your article and I just wanted to say that it’s so refreshing to see people like you giving back to people in need. I actually started something like this with a friend last year and we bought everything from the Dollar store. With $50 we were able to put together 8 care packages. We included baby wipes & feminine napkins for the females. Anyway, thanks for sharing such a thoughtful article. One small change can make a world of difference!

  3. What a lovely idea. I was thinking about a similar thing. Thanks for the ideas of what to include and for spreading how easy it is to make a small sacrifice to help others. A little bit can mean the world to someone in need!

  4. I work with the largest homeless ministry in our city. Lip balm, sunscreen, wet wipes, deodorant, lotion, underwear, and socks are a MUST. The things that the homeless say is not donated enough are socks and underwear. Imagine not being able to do your laundry or shower often… what would the most valuable things be? Some dollar stores have packs of body wipes, packs of 3 lip balms, deodorant, lotion, and more. If possible, wash socks inside out first to get rid of all the lint.

  5. I have found giving a food card or $5 lets the folks go into a fast food place as a paying customer . Many homeless have shared that they are not allowed in the places. They are then allowed use of the restroom , getting warmed up and something to eat. I also packed a 3 inch tall pill bottle with first aid stuff. Bandaids, alcohol wipes, q tips, three cough drops and tooth flossers and a lip balm they are small and light and not too expensive. I have also packed a pair of socks with the items. All in a zip lock bag to keep it dry.

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