Act of Kindness: Care Kit for the Homeless

Drops of sweat slowly sliding down his unshaven and dirty face. He was suffering in the Texas heat, sitting on the side of the road. You could see he needed help, but I didn’t feel comfortable . . . I didn’t know what to do.

“Mom, why is he staring at you? His sign says he is hungry and needs food.” My oldest was all into reading these days and asked a question I couldn’t deny.

“He is staring because he needs help. And, I am unsure what to do.” I felt like my reply was a letdown, a lost parenting moment. I don’t carry cash. I didn’t have food on me. 

“Well, let’s figure it out.” My son issued a challenge and we were going to meet it.

With a bit of research, we found Candid Slice’s video on making Travel Sized Care Kits for the Homeless, and 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.
A care kit is handy to have on hand whenever you come across someone in need.  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:

lip balm

deodorant

toothbrushes

wet ones wipes

toothpaste

sunscreen

beef jerky

band aids

and SOCKS (very important!)

*One reader noted concerns with giving away 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.

*I keep a bottled water separate with a snack.  I live in Texas and don’t want to store food in the heat.  So, I grab from our snack bag when I hand out a care kit.  Makes sure that the food and water are fresh.

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!)  A toothbrush 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:
Update from Sheila: Since the publication of this article, readers inspired by this project have shared with me that over 2,451 Homeless Care Kits in a Sock have been donated across the world by families, community groups, and scout troops. That goodness has been done by YOU! Thank you! Thank you for helping the kids in your world learn to be kind to others and thank you for making these kids, which do brighten a child’s day. Your efforts are worth it!

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