How to make manna bags for the homeless.
You see them standing on the corner with a cardboard sign that reads “Hungry, please help.” And perhaps you are hesitant to give them money, but you really would like to help them in some way.
A great solution is to hand them the manna bag you keep handy in your car.
What is a manna bag, you ask?
Recently, I did a post on how to keep your car neatly organized. In it, I showed a picture of all the “stuff” I keep in my car and a manna bag was one of those items. Here is that post: Organize a car console for $5. I have had questions from readers about what a manna bag is. So, I’d like to share that with you today.
Basically, a manna bag is a large Zip-loc bag filled with non-perishable food, utensils, water, socks and toiletries. These are items that are easily bought in multi-packs, so can be used to fill multiple manna bags.
Here is the current manna bag I have in my car:
The awesome, dare I say special, youth pastor at our church started having the kids assemble manna bags several years ago. (I am not sure where he found the idea, but there is quite a bit available on the internet about making manna bags.) On manna bag assembly day, the kids put all of the items in large Zip-loc bags and add a note of encouragement or a Scripture passage in the bag as well. People can then grab a bag on their way out the door and keep it in their car, so it will be ready when they see someone in need. The kids love being able to help the homeless and the manna bags have been a big hit with our congregation.
Great project for your family, church or community group (like scouts or neighborhood group).
If your church or group would like to do this, it’s easy to ask people to bring in items and then everyone can assemble the bags together. That way each person only has to pick up a few items. But really, if you are doing this on your own, these items are not very expensive and many of the toiletry items can be purchased in trial sized packaging, so it is less expensive but also allows for more items to fit in a bag as well. A win – win.
Here are some suggestions of what to put in a manna bag:
- bottled water
- toiletries in plastic bottles, like shampoo, bar of soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, comb
- plastic utensils: spoon, fork
- napkins or baby wipes
- Non-perishable food. If in cans, make sure it has a pop top, not one that needs a can opener
- packages of sunflower seeds or nuts
- canned tuna or Vienna sausages
- peanut butter crackers
- beef or turkey jerky
- power bars or granola bars
- apple sauce or other fruit in cups
- juice boxes
- boxes of raisins
- hard candies or mints
- note of encouragement
- Scripture passage (Here are some that I really like: Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”, John 6:50-51 “But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”, and Luke 3:11 “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”)
- index card with addresses of local homeless shelters or food pantries
Now that you know what a manna bag is, why not start gathering supplies to create some?
No, it won’t solve your whole community’s hunger problem, but it is a way for you to help folks, one individual at a time, and that’s a great place to start!
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