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Children Learn Almsgiving Making Blessings Bags


It can be hard for children to sacrifice but blessing bags can teach that we are called to see the face of Christ in all people and to love them as He does.

Blessings bags for those in need.

Almsgiving is a part of Lent that can be a little remote for your young children. They know that mom and dad give money to church and charities but that isn’t as real to them as actually giving something tangible.

Small children are not usually consumers, other than a little birthday money from Grandma or something like that, so the idea of giving up something and donating that money to those in need isn’t a concept that they can internalize too easily. Hence the blessings bag.

We started making these a few years ago when our parish started a van ministry.

The van goes out two evenings a week seeking homeless people and providing them with blankets, clean clothes, food items, some toiletries and if they can be convinced, a ride to a shelter.

I thought that if we could make some contribution to this that my little kids could help with and “see” rather than just writing a check it would be their way to serve these people in such need.

I want to make clear that we are not involved in distributing these items, that is a job for those who are trained to deal with the poor souls who live on the street and their various problems. It would not be safe for children to participate.

I had the children come with me to our local discount store with a list and pick out items to distribute. I let them know that there would be no treats for them on this trip and everything we bought was to help people in need.

This itself was a little sacrifice for them because when you are three or four or five years old it’s hard to pick out interesting things to give away and not get anything for yourself.

Mostly there was very little fussing about this because little ones love to help, so approaching it from that angle saved a lot of potential angst.

Ideas to fill your blessings bags

  • Quart size freezer style zipped bags (freezer style are a little sturdier)
  • Juice boxes or pouches
  • Vitamin C powder (individual packets)
  • Cough drops or other soothing drops
  • Granola bars
  • Apple sauce cups (plastic spoon)
  • Tissue packets
  • Wipes
  • Box of raisins
  • Hotel size hand lotions, soaps, mouthwash
  • Small toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sanitizer
  • Holy cards
  • Plastic rosary beads
  • Hand warmers
  • Small deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Band-aids

Have the children write a little message on the bag such as “God Bless You” or “Jesus Loves You”. If they like to add stickers or something cheerful let them do so. Deliver these to your local shelter or food pantry. If you are able, these places are often in need of things like socks, hats, and blankets so a package or two of these items is a great idea.

These little bags will do a lot to show the children that not all people have homes and family to take care of them so it is up to us to see the face of Christ in all people and to love them as He does.

This lesson, more than any other, has the power to change the world.

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About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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