Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Penny of Time" Adventure: Care Kit for the Homeless

 
 
We've seen similar ideas on pinterest, but after reading and watching Candid Slice's video on making Travel Sized Care Kits for the Homeless, we knew we needed to make them.  Go watch it!  It is quite short and to the point, and she has several suggestions that I don't include here in what we did.  
 
These are care kits that are small enough that you can keep one on hand in the car.  I can tuck one into a nook in the glove compartment!  As she suggests, we'll be keeping one in the car and handing it out when we see someone in need. 
 
 
My 4 year old and I went shopping.  We bought enough items for 2 kits:
soap
lotion
band aids
(alcohol-free) hand sanitizer*
(alcohol-free) mouthwash*
deodorant
toothbrushes
wet ones wipes
toothpaste
sunscreen (not pictured)
and SOCKS
 
*One reader noted concerns with giving away these two items due to the alcohol content.  If you can find alcohol-free items, chose those, or, as suggested by the reader, omit the items from the kit.
 
As we shopped, we talked about each item and why it would be important to include.  He really listened because he told his brother all about it later!
 
One of each was put in a sock (including the other matching sock).  I tried to buy gender neutral smelling things and went for the basic white athletic socks.
 
As each item was placed in the sock, we talked about the daily needs of someone who is homeless.  Clean socks are important because they don't have the luxury of throwing the dirty ones in a laundry basket each day.  (The boys know how *stinky* socks can get in one day!)  Mouthwash is important because many of them have dental problems since they can't afford to go to a dentist.  With each item we placed in the sock, the boys could better understand the how being homeless impacts even the smallest thing about your life.  This was good for them to think about and understand.
 
Then the boys went to work drawing pictures and writing nice notes to include in the socks.

 
The 6 year old was VERY SERIOUS about making his note special.


After all of it was complete, my 6 year old looks at me and says,"I need to include some money, too."

He ran to his saving jar (he is saving for a building toy) and grabbed money to include in each envelope that was going into the care kits. 

I asked, "Why do you want to give them money?"

He answered with, "They don't have enough money to buy the things that they need.  I can help a little with that."

As a friend once said when her son showed a
special act of kindness: 
Be still my heart.

To read about an experience we had when we gave away a care kit:
Kids Helping the Homeless, Delivering Care Packages to the Homeless

 

31 comments:

  1. It's spectacular how quickly you jumped into the action on this project. I admire the spirit of generosity you are clearly instilling in your children. Thanks so much for improving our world!

    -Heather, CS (I didn't know how to sign in).

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  2. What a fantastic idea. I am taking my daughter and getting some kit's this weekend. Thank you for the inspiration!

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    1. I'm so glad you are doing it with your daughter! Let me know how it goes and when you are able to "share" your kits with someone in need.

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  3. I adore your blog! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas that put thought into ACTION!

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    1. Thank you, Zara! I took a peek at your site and am eager to go back. Great picture of you and your boys on your site!

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  4. I love this idea! We foster children through Safe Families for Children, and we recently had a child who had been homeless. This would be a lovely project for us to do in his honor. Thanks for linking up- found you at Share it Saturday. I blog over at http://wegotourhandsfull.blogspot.com

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    1. Glad you commented! Love the "Taming the Toys" post! Ready to read through more of your blog. :)

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  5. Great idea. This is wonderful to find people that teach their children something other than wanting everything for themselves. I would like to feature this post on a Thursday in May.

    Consider yourself hugged,
    http://simpleesue.com/try-one-new-recipe-a-week-bed-and-breakfast-cherry-crumb-coffee-cake/

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    1. Thank you for the compliment and the hug. Love finding like minded people out there! (That Crumb Coffee Cake lookes AWESOME!) Sorry about the lack of contact info. Thanks for letting me know . . . that widget in the blog isn't working and I didn't know. I'll contact you right now. I've followed you on twitter @Pennies_of_Time Cheers!

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  6. Sheila, could you contact me so I could talk with you. I can't find any contact info on you. Following you w/pinterest.
    Simplee Sue

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  7. It touched my heart that your kids were so involved in this! I had a brother who was homeless as a teen after he left home. Since I learned about that time in his life I've been trying to find ways to give to people in the situation he was in. With the help of a friend and my mother we got together twenty "Blessing Bags" as we call them and were able to hand them out over this past winter. It was a wonderful experience and one we will be continuing every year. I can't wait to get my children involved in it!

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    1. Blessing Bags are awesome! Thanks for sharing your experience. I have had a greater heart for service since actively involving my kids. Who knew such a simple thing of actively serving in small acts could change our family so much!

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  8. What a fantastic idea! I have done something similar in the past, and our family loved the experience. One note of caution, since I have worked more directly with this population in the past - please don't give them hand sanitizer or mouth wash - some recipients would drink it for the alcohol content and could end up with alcohol poisoning. Wet Ones and tootthpaste are great alternatives.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and sharing your concern! Love getting info and insights from others. I've made a note of your point in the post. There isn't a consistent agreement on what exactly to include in a hygiene kit regarding hand sanitizer or mouthwash, but it is good to know the potential hazards of particular items.

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  9. I just want to say that not only the act of giving but also the conversation you had with your kids about why you are giving the homeless certain items is teaching empathy. Empathy is a virtue that is sorely lacking in the world today. While your children have never been homeless, you are teaching them how to empathize...to understand what it is like to be homeless. That ability will crossover to other experiences throughout their lives. Keep it up! And, thanks for the ideas on how to teach empathy. I'm always looking for ideas like this. Service without empathy is so very empty.

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    1. CHRISTY! You hit the nail on the head . . . "service without empathy is so very empty"---that is going to sit with me for awhile. So very true. Getting our hearts and our spirits to connect with the action of serving and sacrificing for others. Thank you for commenting!

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  10. I also used to work with the homeless population. This is a wonderful idea! In September when I turn 59, it will be one (or many) of my 59 "Acts of Kindness" that I do for my birthday year.
    Thank you for your inspiration! You're kids are going to be great self-less adults. You are a good Mom!
    Joan

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    1. I sure would like to hear what you do with your 59 acts! A great idea! Tank you for your comment!

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  11. Love this! Another great thing to include is a small gift certificate to a restaurant (Subway is cheap and relatively healthy). $5 can buy a lot when you're hungry!

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    1. That is a great idea! Thanks for commenting!

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  12. This is so great! Found it on Facebook recently.

    My mom used to use some crazy tactics for exposing us to these things and we got involved at a really young age. This is just what I need to add into my future plans for my boys.

    May I share this with my local site and blog, LaderaRanch.MacaroniKid.com ? I've just started, but already sectioned off an area for nonprofits and giving back with your kids.

    Thanks again for posting!

    Cynthia C.

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    1. Yes! Please share this idea. We need kids being involve in community service and becoming aware of the needs around us. Your site is looking great!

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  13. I am planning on doing these for my grandchildren to put in their cars and mine. Any time we see a homeless person they all worry about not giving them any money, but since carrying a checkcard I seldom have cash or change with me. Do you actually put some sort of label on the bag before giving it to them? That might seem like a funny question, but just handing them a sock may seem sort of confusing.

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    1. Good question! We usually ask as we hand it to them: "Here is a hygiene kit, Would that be helpful?" We haven't had anyone turn one down. And, socks are a very desired item. Let me know how it goes!

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  14. I LOVE this idea! We always pray for the homeless and offer food to those that we drive by (lots of pre-packaged healthy snacks in our van). But this is great! I've thought about doing something similar in a bag... recently heard how much the homeless appreciate having a good, sturdy bag.

    You have such a kind, caring heart. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Alisha, Thanks for commenting. Evidently, socks are super important and a great item to include in hygiene kit. We will be adding food bars to our kits for the next several months. (Food just doesn't keep long in hot cars where I live, but it is colder now.) And, I have taken note of the need for good sturdy bags . . . makes sense!

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  15. One thing everyone seems to not mention to include is a "space blanket" or "emergency blanket" whatever you want to call it. They are cheap and small when folded up so they fit great in the bag, and do a great job at keeping someone warm.

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    1. Great suggestion, Jim! You are right; they are very small when folded up. Makes it easy to add to the kit!

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  16. I am someone who is on a very tight budget but still want to help the homeless each year (especially when it gets cold outside!).... What I like best about these care packages, is that often times you can find all of these items at the dollar store! I just did a little math and could conceivably make 4 of these care packages for under $20 and thats including a pair of gloves! I think I am going to adjust my budget a little bit and try to come up with at least $20 (hopefully more) to be able to do this with my kids and be able to show them that it may look and feel like we have next to nothing, but really we are so very lucky for what we have.

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    1. You are totally right! I love it when I find 3-4 items in a package for a $1. Even if you only make one, by deliberately talking about each time and asking your kids to help, write notes/draw pictures, and then look for opportunities to hand them out--it will make a difference in teaching your kids. I recently asked for toiletry donations from my friends who travel and scored several packages of high quality lotion, along with toothbrushes and toothpaste. Let me know how it goes! Would love for you to share your experience on the Pennies of Time Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PenniesofTime

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  17. I've loved this post since I first saw it and am finally stopping in to comment and tell you so! Shared it too - several times I believe. Such a fabulous idea.

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