Volunteer from Home on Martin Luther King Day!
Many people want to give back on MLK Day and do something to help others.
However, many non-profits are closed in observance of the holiday. Fortunately, there’s a great way to volunteer from home and to help those who are experiencing homelessness. It’s great for family, friends, any size group, and all ages!
With that in mind, here’s a special project for you and your family on MLK Day: make gift bags for the homeless.
Here’s how to make gift bags for the homeless with your family on MLK Day.
Meet the people you’ll helping:
Homelessness can be a faceless, nameless problem that seems abstract. Fortunately, two wonderful organizations produced pictures and videos for this exact purpose.
Meet Jerry. At the time of this interview with Jerry, was homeless. Here’s his story: Jerry’s story
Listen to Jerry’s story
This lady is named Pat. Does she fit your image of homelessness? Pat’s story
Listen to Pat’s story
And this is Tarvis. What is his life like? Tarvis’s story
Listen to Tarvis’s story
There are also a lot of families and children who are homeless. Dorothy Day House of Hospitality in Memphis is a refuge for these families.
Maybe you found some parts sad or shocking. I hope you found something that resonated with you and challenged how you envision homelessness. I hope you feel inspired to help.
Make a list of items to include
You can build your own gift bags with anything you like. We used gallon sized bags but quart sized bags are very common for this project as well. Here are some ideas of items to include:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash
- Hand lotion
- Healthy snacks (individual servings of peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, granola bars, tuna fish and crackers along with disposable utensils)
- A list of places (addresses and phone numbers) that provide services for the homeless
- Socks, gloves, hats
- Gift cards for fast food restaurants and public transit
- Bottled water
- Razor and shaving cream
- Hand sanitizer
- Inspirational message or helpful information
When planning healthy snacks, consider that many of the homeless are missing teeth and cannot easily eat hard foods like peanuts. Fruit cocktail, applesauce and soft fruit bars are more accessible for everyone.
Collect or purchase materials for your gift bags
Open all of the packages and make your assembly line
With your friends and family, form an assembly line and place one of each item into the bag.
You can donate these to one of the many wonderful organizations in Memphis that serve the homeless. Here are a few:
Urban Bicycle Food Ministry: Email Frank
Room in the Inn Memphis: Email Lisa
St Mary’s Soup Kitchen: Email Martin
Need more ideas for places to donate in Memphis? Email us!
Tell us about it!
Looking at the pictures and watching the videos will give you and your family a better sense of who you would be helping and it reminds us to be thankful for our warm homes and our families. This is a great project for any age and any size group. Everyone can help with selecting the items and filling the bags.
If you’re looking for more way to get involved, Visit our Calendar of Volunteer Opportunities or our Virtual Volunteer Fair – Volio!
Very special thank you to for helping us share how you can volunteer from home in Memphis:
- Bill Piacesi and the Focus for the Good team
- Beth Halldorson and Liz McKee of Baker Donelson