Guest post from Katie of Saving You Everything
I am a social worker by training, and every time I see a homeless person in my city, I try to decide on the best way to help them.
Should I give them money? Should I try to tell them where a shelter is? Is this a scam? Are they just faking?
Whatever the case, I feel compelled to — and NOT just because I’m a social worker. I want to help them because I’m human and so are they… and they are asking for help.
I decided to use my “coupon super powers” to make what my hubby and I call our Mobile Homeless Outreach Bags. Now, when we see someone asking for money or food, we simply reach into the backseat of our car and hand them a bag with toiletries and food!
Most of the people are stunned. One guy started to tear up and asked if we wanted our bag back!
Our Mobile Homeless Outreach Bags
Most of our bags usually cost less than $3 to make, and sometimes they are totally free. Here’s what we put inside (along with an estimated cost breakdown).
- 1-bottle of water (I get a 6-pack of bottled water for $0.55/pack)
- 1-toothbrush & tube of toothpaste (free at Walgreens after coupon and Register Reward)
- 1-deodorant (free at CVS after coupon & ECB)
- 2-Bic Disposable Razors (free at Walgreens after Balance Rewards points)
- 1-can of Nivea shave cream (free at Dollar Tree w/a coupon)
- 3 pack of Underwear $1.00 (this might seem weird, but I’ve heard from several shelters that underwear and socks are hardly ever donated. The size may or not be the right one, but I figure it’s better than nothing.)
- 1-pair socks (our Goodwill has new socks for $0.55/pair)
- Shampoo, conditioner, bar soap (from a friend who gives me her hotel toiletries from trips)
- 1-body poof ( I buy these in a 3-pack from Dollar Tree) and then I use a sturdy zip-top bag to put these in
- Misc. snacks that I get for free from the store — crackers, potted meats, hard candy, etc.
- 1-backpack (my work always has promo backpacks that are free for the taking)
The total is right around $1.88 per bag
That’s just $1.88 to help someone out, even if it’s just for a few days-to let them know that they are loved by someone.
I think this could be a great summertime project for kids.
If you don’t feel comfortable handing these out yourself, call around to local shelters to see if you can donate the bags to their efforts. Also, each year, local Girl Scout troops collect hygiene items for their April Showers campaign. Consider saving items for their collection.
Katie lives in St Louis, MO, and blogs over at Saving You Everything. She started blogging in an effort to show others how easy it is to save time, money, and even sometimes the Earth. By using what she has on hand and ‘making do’ she’s able to save money and help others in the process. She has been radically inspired by Crystal at Money Saving Mom to save money, be kind to others (including herself!), and to be a good steward of all the resources she’s been given.