Minister as a Family to the Homeless

family hosting yard sale

A couple of years ago, our family moved to a new city. We noticed something about our city right away. We noticed the woman with the sign at the stoplight by the grocery store. There was the man we passed on the way to piano lessons. We saw the older man holding a weathered piece of cardboard next to McDonald’s. It seemed everywhere we went, people were panhandling. I not only felt my heart stirring but also watched my young children reading every sign and begging to help. As a family, we decided to do something.

Bags of Hope

We assembled plastic bags of supplies to distribute to the homeless we encountered. To fund the project, we involved the entire family. Follow these steps to start this or a similar project with your family:

  1. Pick a project. Jesus’ call to minister to the “least of these” includes various needs. In our city, it was homelessness. In your city, it may be needy elderly, schoolchildren, or a family going through some type of crisis. The Bags of Hope can easily be adapted.
  2. Begin fundraising. Instead of simply funding this project ourselves, my husband and I thought the children might learn more if we raised the money together. During this step, we got the grandparents involved. We hosted a yard sale at their house, with proceeds going toward the Bags of Hope. The whole family spent the day helping with the yard sale. The children shared their project plans with shoppers throughout the day.
  3. Assemble the bags. After our yard sale, the children and I went shopping. We decided on gallon-sized bags and filled them with healthy snacks, bottled water, toothbrushes, toothpaste, flashlights, socks, hand sanitizer, and plastic bandages. We also included a gift card to a local fast-food restaurant and a small cash gift. My daughter made cards for the bags letting the recipients know we would be praying for them.
  4. Start distribution. This was the most exciting part of the project. We kept the bags in our car. The children began passionately seeking out those holding signs throughout our daily travels. More than once, they begged to turn the car around to specifically reach out to someone they had spotted. After distributing each bag, we prayed as a family for the person.

Although our Bags of Hope didn’t end the homelessness problem in our city, they were transformational for our family. Gone were the days of nervously trying to avoid eye contact with those holding signs at the intersection. Instead, we sought out people to help, and we learned that was really what Jesus called our family to do.

Tracey Allred lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband, James, and 3 children.


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