Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Blessing Baskets

Thanksgiving can be the perfect opportunity for you to share Christ's compassion without strings attached. The food basket at Thanksgiving is not a new idea, but one so simple that it often gets lost in our "big event" planning. Here are few hints and tips.

First of all, decide who you are going to give baskets to. It's fun going all willy nilly, but be thoughtful about it. We had baskets going to families in need not only in our community, but also in our immediate church family also. It might be a single mother, a family who has faced a health or financial crisis or a senior citizen on a fixed income. Maybe it is someone who has just had a particularly hard year. Ask congregation members for names of members of community who they know might need a pick'me'up. Everyone knows someone...a fellow employee...a neighbor...a family member in need...maybe someone at school.

Gathering the items for your Blessings Baskets is as easy as opening your mouth. Most folks are just waiting on ready to help out. We contacted local merchants and received special discounts on turkeys or gift certificates. We also set up boxes in our foyer for canned goods or mixes. We also didn't limit ourselves to just food baskets. Keep in mind that people of food stamps have a certain amount of money a month that is for food purchases only...this cannot be used for household supplies, personal hygiene items, etc. And many families in need are not eligible for food stamps. Be practical in your giving. If you bless a senior citizen please keep in mind that he or she doesn't need a turkey (unless they are having company). Instead, fill their baskets with things that they could easily prepare or store. If you have a family going through a medical crisis bless them with things like gas cards, cash, snack foods that they can carry back and forth with them to the hospital or fully prepared meals at home. I have provided a list of items to consider for your blessing baskets at the end of my ramblings here.

The basket itself doesn't have to be fancy. Wal-mart has relatively inexpensive wicker baskets. Either have folks donate the funds (or they can purchase one themselves to donate) or ask Wal-mart or another retail store for a donation. We used brown paper sacks donated by a local grocery store a lot if we had many baskets to give out. Add special treats to the basket. Candy for the kids, artificial leaves or pumpkins. You can have your children's Sunday school classes decorate the outside of the brown paper bags with blessings and messages of greeting of their own. Be sure to include a brief little "thinking of you" card. You can add a tract or info about your church if you wish, but keep in mind that the thought alone is a testimony.

Delivery day is always fun. Keep in mind that some people are a bit uncomfortable with the idea of "receiving." If that is the case you can always take the "knock and run" approach. We had a few folks in our church that loved, loved deliver day. They would set out with an address list in hand, their back seat filled with baskets and big smiles plastered all over their faces. There is something about blessing someone in need with this kind of surprise.

Don't be afraid to get your whole church involved in The Blessing Basket project. Kids and adults alike need to get into the habit of blessing others. Have fun!

List of Blessing Basket Items

Turkeys or Hams
Fresh vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots, winter squash
Fresh fruit
Dried pasta and sauces
Canned vegetables
Canned fruit
Stuffing mix
Packets or jars of gravy
Pie crust mix
Pie filling
Muffin and/or corn bread mix
Cranberry sauce
Hot or cold cereal
Cookie, brownie or cake mixes
Fresh baked goods
Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, tissues, etc.)
Gas or gift cards
Paper products (toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex)
Household products (laundry detergent, dish soap)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! Thank you for sharing your ideas!