Great post. Be sure and read the comments referred to in the original blog =)
“Those posts pretty much sum up why the idea of “Blessing Bags” bothers me so much. I know that the intention behind them is good, but it’s dehumanizing because it implies that just because someone is homeless they can’t be trusted to be a decent enough person to deserve straight up cash, which is far more helpful than Blessing Bags or sets of clothing or baskets of food. It also implies that giving and kindness are conditional – people can’t just simply give for the sake of giving. They want to make sure what they give falls under some arbitrary “acceptable use” policy.
I can understand not wanting hard-earned cash to go to drugs or alcohol or whatever else – but honestly, how other people choose to deploy the help you give them is none of your business. You either give for the sake of giving, or you don’t, it’s simple as that. Just because you are better off or it’s your money you are giving to them, doesn’t mean you are better than them or that you get to decide how they live their lives. They are still human beings just like you.
If you don’t want your money going to drugs and booze, then just simply don’t give. No one’s going to hold that against you. But let’s not make it worse and dehumanize and humiliate people that are already down on their luck by directly passing out Blessing bags, clothing, food, or basically anything else that is representative of “conditional giving” – which is anything but cash or gift certificates. The money you spend on those things is usually far more useful to them than what you buy with it anyway. They can buy not only what they need, but what they want, if they are so inclined. Let them have that little bit of joy in their lives.”
So there’s been this idea going around for a while of “Blessing Bags” or “Blessing Boxes” where people fill Ziploc bags with travel-sized toiletries, snacks, and whatever else, meant to be passed out to homeless people as an act of kindness. Naturally it spread like wildfire thanks to Pinterest, and I started seeing it being posted everywhere. I know people mean well, but something felt wrong about it to me. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it or articulate my feelings.
At some point, I came across a blog written by someone else that articulated my feelings perfectly. It felt awesome to know I wasn’t alone. However, at the time many of my friends were into the whole “Blessing Bag” thing and jumping on the bandwagon for it, so I didn’t share that blog because I knew it wouldn’t be well received anyway – people don’t like having…
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