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Sparkle Crafts
sparkle craft – blessing bags

March 23, 2017
sparkle craft – blessing bags

In this week's By Thistle By Thimble story, “What's So,” Thomas is a squire who hopes to become a brave and famous knight. The only problem is that the knight he serves seems only to care for the poor and needy. He has no adventures, and earns no glory or riches by serving this humble man.

But when Thomas is finally knighted himself, and learns what is truly “so” in the world, his picture of his former master changes to one of deep respect.

If you start researching ways to help the homeless on the internet, it can quickly become so overwhelming that you give up.

Most organizations agree that the best way to help is to send money, but if part of your goal is to also teach your young squires... er, your kiddos, to be kind and giving, writing a check is usually just not hands-on enough.

What “helping” looks like can also be very different depending on where you live. In the larger town I live in now, I see homeless people almost every day. In the small, rural town I grew up in, there were no visible homeless people, but we did have a safe house for victims of domestic violence.

This week's projects are intended to cater to both of those situations.

First, we have “small blessing bags”. These are simply ziplock bags stuffed with small food items. I made them specifically to stick in my purse or backpack for when my kids and I are walking downtown, and someone asks, “I'm hungry, can you help me out?”

Second, we have “larger blessing bags”. These are intended as a larger gift for an entire shelter. You have to do some homework first, by calling your local shelter to see what their needs are, but, trust me, they'll have a long list of items to choose from!

For both projects, I've listed suggestions for involving your kids, as well. Neither is going to save the world (or even one person in the world, probably), but both are one tiny step towards making it kinder.

blessing bags 7 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble
### Small Blessing Bags

Materials

Ziploc bags

Pre-packaged, non-perishable, easy to eat food items (e.g. crackers, nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, granola bars, applesauce, dried fruit)

Paper, markers, paint, etc. (optional, for including a note or picture inside the bag if you want)

Directions

blessing bags 1|www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

The directions for this couldn't be easier: stuff the bags with food, include a note or picture if you want, then tuck one in your purse every time you head out the door.

With that being said, a few notes:

You may have seen “blessing bag” projects for bags filled with toiletries, but I decided to stick with food here because my research indicated that toiletries aren't always that helpful. When you have a houseful of closets to store extra items in, you can stockpile excess toothbrushes and hotel shampoos; when you're getting around with just a backpack, that's harder.

I also found out that it's pretty crucial to put your items in plastic baggies. In our house, we try to limit our use of those, but when you need a lightweight way to keep things dry and protected plastic baggies become a necessity.

For this project, kids can help shop for the items, stuff the bags, and write a note or draw a picture to include. I also think this would make a great thing to do at a kids' party, with each child bringing a box of different snacks to mix-up into bags and each family taking home a few bags to distribute.

blessing bags 9 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

Larger Blessing Bags

Materials

Items your local shelter needs (call them to find out what these are)

Canvas tote

Craft paint

Paint brush

Stencil (can be made of scrap paper or cardboard)

Paper, markers, paint, etc. (optional, for including a note or picture inside the bag if you want)

Directions

Begin by calling your local shelter and seeing what they need. Again, kids can help you shop for the items. For example, our shelter specifically requested Tide Laundry detergent over other brands.

blessing bags 8 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

While you can certainly just pack those items up in a grocery sack and drop them off, to get your kids more involved, consider decorating the bag you deliver them in.

blessing bags 4 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

There are about a million different ways to decorate a canvas tote bag, so be creative. You could do handprint art, potato stamps, or just paint a picture. Here, we used paper to make a stencil, and then dabbed craft paint all around it to make a beautifully outlined heart.

blessing bags 3 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

Once the bag was dry, we stuffed it with the requested items. As with the smaller bags, you could also include a note or picture drawn by your child if you want.

blessing bags 5 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble
Lastly, if it's safe and age-appropriate, consider taking your kids with you to deliver the bag, rather than whisking it off by yourself.
blessing bags 2 |www.sparklestories.com| by thistle by thimble

This is a very case-by-case (and kid-by-kid) thing, but I think that a responsible exposure to some of the harder situations that are “so” in the world, can help even the smallest of us be all the more compassionate.


If you liked this tutorial, here are some others you might enjoy:


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About the Author

Meryl Carver-Allmond

Sparkle Kitchen & Craft Blogger

The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.

Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.

When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.

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