Woman’s Day Magazine has a regular feature entitled “Your Kind Acts”. In a recent issue, one reader submitted her idea to donate birthday kits to food pantries. She encloses a paper tablecloth, napkins, plates, cake mix and canned frosting inside a disposable baking pan, which she encloses into an extra-large zip top bag. What a thoughtful and unexpected surprise! How nice to be able to share a birthday or anniversary celebration with your loved ones. I tried putting together birthday kits for the food pantries. The largest zip top bag I could find was the one-gallon size, and that was not large enough to hold the pan. So, I put the cake mix, frosting and candles inside the bag, put the bag in the pan, and I will put each kit into its own plastic shopping bag and tie it shut. I am going to label each bag with the contents, including the flavors, in case of allergies. I will hopefully be able to drop these off at the food bank next week.
You know, I pretty much always thought that food banks and pantries were for food donations (a logical thought, I guess). Then one day I read about a woman who discovered a real need for disposable diapers at food pantries. The cost of diapers can become quite a hardship, and for the working poor, the option of using cloth is not a viable one. Some families are forced to skip diaper changes in a futile attempt to make the diapers go further, resulting in a painful rash for the baby. So, I realized that diapers made a very welcome addition to food bank donations. Also, during the winter I have seen people walking outside with shoes but no socks. So, socks have become my mission. I pick them up when they are on sale and drop them off at some of our local shelters and food banks.
We have several wonderful shelters for the homeless in the Harrisburg area. We have Bethesda Mission (www.bethesdamission.org), The Silence of Mary Shelter (www.thesilenceofmary.org), the YWCA Women’s Shelter (www.ywcahbg.org), and Shalom House (www.shalomhouse.net). I have visited some of these shelters and done research on all of them. They all have needs in addition to food (which is always welcome). They can use underwear (new, please!), blankets, bottled water, breakfast bars, packaged snacks or crackers, winter boots (in season), grocery store gift cards, bus passes and new towels and pillows. Bus passes come in very handy to help the residents get to job interviews or doctor appointments. Personal care items, such as shampoo, soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, wash cloths, and feminine hygiene products are always in great demand. Some shelters give out travel and trial sizes, some prefer full-size items. You can get an idea of their preference by calling or visiting their web sites. When I was out shopping for the birthday kits, I got a great deal on washcloths, which I will bag up for donation with the kits. I’m not much of a shopper, but I think if I keep my eye peeled for bargains when I am out, I can pick up some much-needed things.
Have a great weekend. Dare we hope that Spring is just around the corner?
If you begin to live life looking for the God that is all around you, every moment becomes a prayer. Frank Bianco