Friend to the Homeless Care Pack Program Manual & Guide
First Edition Written: July 2012
Updated: January 2015
Questions? Contact Friend To The Homeless
On the Web: FriendtotheHomeless.org
Contact: Jacob Folger 240-273-8221
Friend To The Homeless Care Pack Program Introduction
Imagine being alone. No friends, no family. Completely alone. And, without a home. You have but a bag on your shoulder. No creature comforts.
Remember when you set out from home. Maybe off to college or to travel. You knew your loved ones were there behind. You might have got a care package from them. With goodies, it made you smile.
Homeless people have no one behind. No one has their back. There is no care package coming.
Enter the Friend to the Homeless Care Pack Program. Now homeless people have someone looking out for them. They have Care Packs. A useful drawstring backpack filled with all kinds of creature comforts. Socks, wonderful, clean and fresh. A washcloth and face towel. Soap and shampoo. Munchies and more.
Join us? Yes you can. We are seeking church communities and other groups who would like to follow our model to produce care packs for homeless people. We provide complete training....
How to build a Care Pack Team
How to ask for donations from your community
How to efficiently store donations
What contents to put in each Care Pack and sources
A source for the Care Pack pack itself
How to set up an assembly line to assemble the Care Packs
How to distribute the Care Packs to homeless individuals and organizations that help homeless people
The original idea for the Care Pack Program was created by Seekers Church and a small, grassroots project, Friend to the Homeless.
Seekers Church, located on the outskirts of busy, metropolitan Washington DC was a perfect location for the Care Pack program to begin because it is close to a large homeless population.
A few core members of the church, along with Friend to the Homeless got together and began to plan the program. Meetings were held to discuss what to put in the packs and how we would acquire the contents. At first there was a fair amount of concern about how the program would work and how donations would be made. There were several conversations before the members of Seekers Church decided to support the program with donations of the packs and contents.
With a little creativity, the Care Pack Program was born in 2010. In the first month 15 Care Packs were created and distributed to homeless people from the area. Since then, our small congregation (about 40 members) has been consistently producing 15 Care Packs each month.
In early 2011, it was decided to use the model of the Seekers Church Friend to the Homeless Care Pack Program to teach other communities, churches, organizations and groups how to do what we have done.
A support team was created and consists of Peter Bankson, Vincent Shepherd, June Gable, Paul Crumrine and Jake Folger. This team wrote and produced this manual and guide and provides support for others that want to do the Care Pack Program within their communities.
We stress that this guide is but a small part of the support you will receive from the Care Pack Program Team. Please contact us for more information
Sometimes we come to the understanding that it’s time for us to make a change to help the world become a better place, a place where community provides security and prosperity for all, even those who have no home. But that vision is so big that the first step seems too much to handle. Where can you begin? What’s the first step?
If you are part of a faith community, organization or group, speak to those who you think might be the most interested in a project to help homeless people. You might find that there is already some activity within the community to help those who are living on the street. If so, you might bring your energy and commitment to that group, to help them live out the commitment they have already made.
If there is already some kind of project in process, the Care Pack Program could be an addition to it. If there is no program for you to join, then it may be time for you to call together a team to help address this need. You can make announcements about the Care Pack Program at gatherings and talk to friends that might be interested. It only takes 3 to 5 folks make a team. If you have a hunger to make a difference for homeless people, your own energy will help to bring it together.
The team could meet 1-4 times per month depending on its requirements. Having contact with others that share your passion will help support each team member.
There are resources on the Friend to the Homeless web site to help you build a team, and members of the team at Seekers Church are available to hear your ideas and help you get started. We provide complete support.
Asking For Donations For Care Pack Contents
Once your organization, group, congregation or community knows of your team to produce Care Packs for homeless people, you will need to make frequent announcements about the program and ask for donations for the contents of the Care Packs.
Mostly, it is just a matter of talking for a moment about what you are doing; how much your community will be helping our friends on the street, and how simple it is to be a part. You may use a version of the donation sign-up sheet in Appendix B of this manual. Make one big enough to have room for all the items you need. You can pass it around your community on a clipboard so individuals can sign up to make donations.
You might give a brief scenario of what life on the streets is like. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to go to sleep and wake up in the same clothes, or put on the same pair of socks every day. Or what it is like to wake up hungry, with no food to eat. The Care Packs will help these people, our people.
Although it is good to make donation requests in person, you might consider giving out fliers to your community. If your group has an online list-serve, you can send out postings quickly and easily. Having a designated bin or box at your community’s location with a sign for collected donations is a great reminder to all who pass it by. If in a church, carry the bin to the altar at offering time.
Be persistent and consistent. In the beginning, the response may be slow. But your people will come around. You, your team and your community can make it happen. Remember
We are here to support you. Guest visits can be made by us to your community to help you get your Care Pack Program off the ground. Please contact us.
Care Pack Contents
Sources Donations of core items are requested from the community. Once per month, before the day of assembly of the Care Packs, an inventory is taken of all the donations and an announcement is made to the community of those items that are still needed. In most cases this will bring up the inventory to the required amount. If not, orders are placed with vendors.
Contents of Care Packs
Toothbrush & toothpaste (travel toothbrushes and toothpaste generally purchased)
soap, soap container, washcloth, face towel (two small bars of soap in plastic container or one full-sized bar)
razors & shaving cream ( two or more disposable razors and travel size shaving cream)
2-3 soft, easy-to-chew granola bars
2-3 pop top can of food (can of spaghetti and meatballs, for example)
socks (two pairs of men’s cotton crew or tube socks) for both men and woman
shampoo (travel size)
hair conditioner (travel size)
hand or skin lotion (travel size)
Other items that may be included are: hand warmers, gloves, warm hats, scarves, sewing kits.
Items are put in a small, water resistant cinch-sack back pack. The packs are purchased in bulk.
The team discusses additions and replacements to packs and alternate sources of items at regular team meetings.
Storage of Contents Contents of the bags are stored in 3 to 5 gallon, clear plastic recycle bins. The tops of the bins are open and allow for many items to be removed without moving the stacked bins. Clear plastic makes the level of inventory evident without moving the bins.
Inventory An inventory of all of the Packs and contents collected is conducted monthly and reported at Care Pack Team Meetings. The inventory is timed to allow for requests for donations and purchases to replenish supplies before the next scheduled distribution.
Assembling the Care Packs
This care pack assembly description is based on the example set by Seekers Church who produces approximately 15 Care Packs per month.
1. All donations are sorted and put into storage containers.
2. On the first Sunday of the month the Care Packs are assembled.
3. The donated items are brought out to a specified area for assembly.
4. Two long folding tables are needed.
5. Those on the Care Pack Team should do the assembly or ask the community for volunteers. If you are assembling around 15 bags, the process should take 3 to 5 people only about 15 minutes.
6. The donated items are placed on the tables with each type of item grouped together.
7. The numbers of items used for care packs are counted out on the table, depending on the number of care packs you want to make.
8. At least one person should be in charge of at least 2 items going into the care packs, which in turn is passed to the next person who does the same thing until the care pack is completed.
9. One person should be responsible for the final count of completed care packs, which is then reported to the leader or director of the care pack ministry.
10. Care packs are then ready to be passed out to homeless individuals or given in bulk to organizations that help homeless people.
Distributing the Care Packs
Questions? Contact Friend To The Homeless FriendtotheHomeless.org 240-273-8221
Orientation Most of the Care Packs at Seekers Church are given out by members of the congregation as they go about everyday activities. Most people, having given a Care Pack to a homeless person, find it to be a rich and rewarding experience. The filled bags are kept near the front and back doors at the church where they can be given to homeless people who drop by when the building is in use. They are available for members to take and keep in their cars or have available when they visit places where homeless people ask for help.
It helps to share experiences with the people who have donated the contents and packed the bags, so they know something about the individuals who have received them. The Care Pack Program for the homeless is all about helping real people with real problems!
Cautions Giving out Care Packs will take some common sense. It would not be a good idea to go out at night. Don't approach intoxicated people. If you only have one or two Care Packs, don't approach a crowd.
Where to Find Homeless People In most cities, you should be able to find homeless people. Major intersections are often places where homeless people ask for help. Pull up and, if possible, show them the Care Pack. Tell them briefly what is in it and ask if they can use those things. Keep in mind that many homeless people have to carry all that they own. Carrying more than they need is not always an option.
You might go to a city park, or an area that is near a homeless shelter, or a place that serves meals to homeless people at a time when not too many people are around.
Giving To Organizations That Help Homeless People In most cities there are organizations that help homeless people and have regular contact with them. Contact them, tell them about your Care Pack program and offer to donate the Care Packs to them to give to their clients.
Care Pack Contents
Sources Here are some sources for the items we put in our care packs. There are many sources for items that people on the street can use. Check a Dollar Store; watch for sales at the grocery store; shop on line.
bins, recycle The Container Store
If you want help locating sources for bulk items, contact the Care Pack Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample Care Pack Donation Sign-Up List
Goal 15 Bags (Month/Year)
Men’s Tube Socks (Need 30 pair) ___________
Name of person: ___________
I will donate 6 pair __________
Washcloths (Need 15)
I will donate 5 __________
Face Towels (Need 15)
I will donate 3 __________
Bar Soap with Plastic Box (Need 15)
I will donate 5 __________
Toothbrush (Need 15)
I will donate 5 __________
Toothpaste (Need 15)
I will donate 5 ___________
Skin Lotion (Need 15)
I will donate 5 __________
Razors w/mini Shaving Cream (Need 15)
I will donate 5 ___________
Granola Bars or small cans of spaghetti or beans (Need 30)