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Smiles in a Bag

Posted by Bryan Monteleone on
Smiles in a Bag

We've all seen them.

Sitting in our car at a stoplight, we've seen the person standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign that says something along the lines of, 'Need Food' or 'Hungry Veteran.' And while we want to help, we don't know if we can trust that the receiver will use our donation the right way. After all, we don't know them - do they abuse alcohol? Use drugs? Will they use our money to feed themselves or harm themselves? It's a dilemma that leaves us feeling helpless and sometimes remorseful as we drive away.

After feeling this way myself (several times), I was inspired to do something about it. That's why I started Mission Manna. Mission Manna is not an original idea. The same thing has been done in hundreds of communities across the country. We started Mission Manna because we want to help spread the word about this simple way to make a difference in every community. The core idea consists of handing out bags (we call them 'Manna Bags') of essentials and food in lieu of money to the homeless. And we did add our own little twist by making sure we include a hand-written note of encouragement for the homeless we serve.

Our hope in writing this blog is that you might be inspired to start your own chapter of Mission Manna (or whatever you want to call it!) and start providing for the homeless in your community. The best way to get started is to have a stuffing party with your friends and family (including kids if you have them). We invite everyone over to our house and we provide the items we want to include in the bags. Of course, everyone is welcome to bring their own items as well or you can assign items for each participant to bring. Make sure everyone brings enough to fill however many bags you're planning to stuff. Depending on the climate/weather, these can include but aren't limited to:

  • dry goods and snacks
  • juice boxes
  • water bottles
  • gum
  • socks
  • travel toothbrush/toothpaste
  • insect repellent
  • sunscreen
  • gloves
  • sock hat
  • chap stick
  • sanitary wipes
  • tissues
As I mentioned earlier, we always try to include a hand-written note of encouragement as well, especially from any little ones who help us stuff bags! We also use these stuffing parties as a way to explain that homeless people may have made some bad decisions or find themselves down on their luck due to circumstances outside of their control, but they are still people and we should do all we can to help them - passing out bags and sharing a little note of hope is a great way to do just that!