Hello, Welcome to

Blessing Bags

Helping People Grow... Within the Roanoke Community... One Bag at a time...

About Blessing Bags

Hello and

Welcome to Blessing Bags

Joshua Gabrielson | Director and Founder

The Blessing Bag Program is a local non-profit that provides bags filled with hygiene and related items to our areas homeless and needy. Currently, the Roanoke Valley had an estimated 500+ homeless and several thousand classified as needy. The program started in 2016 as a grass roots campaign and has become a project of mine ongoing. 100% of everything goes back into the program and stayed local to SWVA. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and helping our cause!

What We Do

Homeless

With over 500 homeless here in the Roanoke Valley, our program hopes to achieve 100% success with being able to provide to them each month.

Senior Citizens

Many seniors simply can't get the items they need to function. Part of our mission is to help them by providing bags.

Those In Need

We also have several people that are simply in need becuase of job loss, financial circumstances, family issues and the like too.

We Collect Items

We have a collection drive the first of each week and ask our community and corporate leaders to help donate small items in need.

We Collect Donations

We also collect funding both great and small in order to help cover our expenses. Our goal is to raise $45,000 annually if possible.

100% Volunteer

Unlike many non-profits, our's IS different. 100% of what is donated stays in the program and everyone is a volunteer that helps.

99,897

People in Roanoke

106

Number of Donations

725

Bags Made this Year

315

Families Helped

In the News

What we do Makes a Difference Locally!

Being citizen of the Roanoke Valley, I'm proud to call out little corner of the world, home. Roanoke is a small quaint place, filled with a lot of down to Earth people who are friendly and its still a relatively safe place to raise a family.

Creating blessing bags for the community is my way of showing that people care about others right here in our area. I started the program as a way to show that your neighbors, friends and family can come together to help those that honestly need it, be it homeless or simply in a temporary bind with finances.

Over the course of the last 12 months, we've created and passed out over 700 bags, FAR MORE than even I had hoped. While that's a LOT for a small non-profit, it's not enough to cover the nearly 500+ homeless and 1,700+ families that are termed in "extreme poverty".

Recently, I had heard back from one person that helps pass out the bags each month and they had some good stuff to say about it!


"We have had alot of people come by and they  love the bags with tuna or snacks  they say its the only thing they have other than our food for them said to thank you so much for all you do!"

It's little thank you notes just like that really make my day. Sure, what we do will not solve the worlds problems, but if we can help make a small difference in people locally that need the help, we are one step closer to helping them get back on their feet.

Sure, there are plenty of non-profits that work with homeless and needy in our area, but none are dedicated to helping like we are. Most are equipped to provide shelter, clothes and food, we primarily provide hygiene related items, some snacks and small clothing items for winter like hats and gloves.

Our annual goal is $44,000. We are no where near that goal yet, but as we grow we are slowly reaching that! In 2017 we will be lucky if we reach $5,000 BUT we're young and determined to help those in Roanoke and beyond through grants and donations in the form of both cash and items needed for the program.

The $44,000 will cover enough bags each month for all the homeless those in extreme poverty in and around Roanoke.

Thank you to each and everyone of you that has donated to the program so far, as well as those that have clicked an advertisement on the website, simply shared on social media or those that have asked us to come and speak at their organization.



Raffle and Fundraiser in Roanoke



HAPPY to announce that we raised $890.46 during our bingo fundraiser! Thanks to EVERYONE that came out to help support our cause!

Come To Our Bingo Fundraiser October 14th from 6-8pm!

$1 Per Card Per Game Bingo
32" HDTV Raffle, just $5 a ticket! (Thanks Best Buy) Purchase below!
50/50 Cash Prize at the end, $1 per ticket or 6 tickets for $5!

We will have LOTS of prizes including gift cards to Applebees, Panera Bread, Subway and Chick-fil-a! 

We will also have Gift baskets with Starbucks, Pet gift baskets and more!

Food: Well be offering both hot-dogs as well as pizza donated from Little Ceaser's!

Kid's are welcome to come and hang or play! :) 

50/50 Cash Prize Giveaway! We will be selling special tickets for $1 each or 6 for $5. At the end of our evening, someone will win half of what is raised. The more people buy, the bigger the jackpot! (must be present to win)

100% of everything raised will go to the Blessing Bag Program, Roanoke's regional non-profit program to help the homeless and those in need!

Purchase Raffle Tickets online by clicking the link below.


Check out some images below!














We Could Use YOUR Help!

Hi Friends!

I'm looking to start expanding the Blessing Bag Program and I'm looking for some people to help out. I'm looking for someone that knows a little bit about fundraising and someone that can help out in meeting with churches and other organizations to setup places and times where I can make presentations for the program.
 
I'm also looking for people to help spread the word about our little non-profit here so we can try to gain more funding as we continue to grow!




Churches that Help with Our Blessing Bags



Often when you think of helping the homeless, you tend to think of churches and what they can do within the local community. Many of them offer "coat closets" of food banks where you can have access to those items and they are a great resource for those that are in need of some items like that.

The Blessing Bag Program works with churches of all denominations in order to help bring awareness to our community.

We are working on an education program to help church members better understand how our program works and how they can help right here in our area.

If your church would like to help with our program, please message me by emailing me at questions@blessingbag.net.

I'm happy to have the help of various church groups here in the Roanoke Valley.

I'm also happy to speak at a church or organization here in the area to help better educate those with homelessness, panhandling, the scams and also how our program works!

Thanks!

Joshua Gabrielson
Blessing Bag Director



Blessing Bag Update




Should You Care?


Most Americans don't really give it much thought, people in need that is. Many people see homeless as they venture off to work, pass by a senior citizen in need each day or see the children head into local schools as they start their day. Those and many more are ALL in need of some form of help.

Should You Care About Others? 

The simple answer is yes, you should care about those around you that REALLY need help.

Our program is able to take your donations and put them to valued products that are literally taken for granted each and everyday. Something as simple as a .99¢ toothbrush, perhaps deodorant, or a pair of new socks can make a world of difference for someone. 

According to a report at the new organization Reuters, there are approximately 3.5 million people in the United States that are homeless in 2015, with roughly 25% of those homeless being children. Now that's just their estimate, there is more like 6.4 million homeless according to a 2016 HUD report as Reuters is limited in the survey they put out. 

Now that number doesn't include those that live in their parents basement, sleep on their friends couch and the like, these are genuinely homeless people.

Can you believe that? Half a million right here in America, home of the free, have no place to live. And people say we need to help those overseas; don't get me wrong, I'm ALL for helping people, but can we help our own neighbors first, before we push billions in aid to other countries? 

What If...

Take a minute and think about your expenses each month, your rent or mortgage, power bill, credit cards, car payments, your entertainment budget, eating out, stuff you spend each month like coffee, fast food, movies, etc. 

If you took $10 a month out of your budget, that $10 would purchase 10 items for a homeless person. Each month, they would get 10 things to help them along the way. 

Why should you even want to give in the first place? 

Well, besides it being a biblical responsibility (which I wont get into because this is not a religious thing, yes I'm religious) it's a rightful and moral thing to do. 

If you saw your neighbor fall outside and they couldn't get up, would you go to their aid to help? What if they were your family, what about then? 

What if you saw someone stuck in a car and it started fire, would you try to get them out or drive past them? 

What if YOU were that person, would you want someone to help you? 

If 100 people donated $10 a month, that $1,000 would give roughly 250 blessing bags.

Meet Samantha

I recently met Samantha while working the streets and hanging out blessing bags to people. She, like many of the other homeless, got there by hard time, losing her job at a textile factory in a nearby Danville, VA. 



Samantha came to Roanoke, where the Blessing Bag Program is headquartered, and was at the local Rescue Mission, a facility to help homeless, those down on their luck and the needy here in the area. Like many shelters across the United States, they offer a hot meal, a place to sleep at night and assistance to get back on their feet through various programs they offer.

Sam, as she likes to be called is a mother of 1 and shes trying to get back on her feet. The blessing bag program helps her with some of the basics that she otherwise wouldn't get, a razor, some tampons, tooth brush and toothpaste, some lotion and a few other items that she could use.

After meeting with her and keeping tabs on her whereabouts, after 3 months of giving her blessing bags, she was able to get a new job working here in the area, she was able to save up and get a small one bedroom apartment and life for her is starting to slowly get back on track. 

While our program didn't save her life and it didn't get her our of the situation she was in, it did however help her along the way. It showed her that someone cared enough to get her a few things that helped get her through the month. 

And you see that's the point, what we do is about helping others in our community

How People Become Homeless

Homelessness is, in fact, caused by any number of life occurrences such as the loss of loved ones, job loss, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes. Other impairments such as depression, untreated mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder, and physical disabilities are also responsible for a large portion of the homeless.

Many factors push people into living on the street. Acknowledging these can help facilitate the end of homelessness in America.

For those living in poverty or close to the poverty line, an "everyday" life issue that may be manageable for individuals with a higher income can be the final factor in placing them on the street. A broken down vehicle, a lack of vehicle insurance, or even unpaid tickets might be just enough to render someone homeless.

Divorce costs and the associated lowering of a family's total income can cause one or more family members to become homeless. For families that can hardly pay their bills, a serious illness or disabling accident may deplete their funds and push them out onto the street.

Today, the rapid, unexpected loss of jobs and resultant foreclosures has caused great dislocation among families and has dramatically added to the number of people without a roof over their heads.

Natural disasters often cause current housing situations to become untenable and costly repairs are often simply not possible. The results of Hurricane Katrina stand in bleak testimony to the power of nature to displace people.


The great challenge for the newly homeless is to figure out how to return to their normal lives.

Organizations that build emergency shelters and transitional housing typically work with a larger number of service providers around the country whose mission is to provide the services, such as job training, social skills training, and financial training, that enable these people to regain employment and return to mainstream lives.

The progression for these recently homeless is to first be housed in transitional residences where they can learn these skills, to graduate to assisted living in affordable housing while they build up economic reserves and rebuild their employment resume, and then to graduate to full, market rate housing.




 

How Blessing Bags Work- FAQS

Hi Friends,

I wanted to share with you some insights on the Blessing Bag Program and give you some related facts behind what we do and how it effects your local community. Below are some related facts that I encourage you to read up on.

What is a Blessing Bag? 

The Blessing Bag Program was created by Joshua Gabrielson of Roanoke, Virginia. The original idea was to place items in bags and hand those out rather than giving cash to panhandlers in the area, as that was a better alternative than cash.

The program quickly turned into a program for those in need rather than panhandling.

Normally, they are plastic quart sized bags filled with various items not normally provided by a homeless shelter or items that go beyond the basics.

What Items can Go in a Blessing Bag? 

To give you an idea, items are usually travel sized but can have a big impact. Everything from a toothbrush, soap, body lotion, feminine products, eye drops, snacks such as crackers or foiled pack of tuna, information on local resources, pair of new socks, gloves for the winter, etc. There are a lot more items that can go into these bags but gives you a rough idea. You can find a complete list of items we collect, here.

When do you make Blessing Bags? 

We usually make them the first week of each month and we try to make as many as we need or that our budget will allow. After making them, we tend to go out and distribute them to those that need them. We also work with other non-profits in distributing them, like New Lifescape Ministries and Helping South East.

Who gets these Blessing Bags? 

Good question. While we have three different categories, homelessness, families with children and seniors, the program is open to anyone who is in need.

Our definition of being in need is the lack of being able to provide for yourself or you family due to budget constraints.

Do you have anyone that abuses the program? 

Yes, I'm sure that we do but we try to do a good job of figuring out who's who.

Can you give me a list of people that need items? 

No, we don't give out lists or names. It's hard enough to be in the position that you are in when you have to ask for help, let alone receive it.

Can my church or business donate to the program? 

Yes! We encourage both churches as well as businesses to help participate in the program. You are helping the local community, plus it shows that you care about those in need. It's a great way to help get some free promotion out there too!

Can I donate items or cash? 

You can donate both to the program. Just click the Contact Us button at the top and send us a message and someone will get back with you.

How Much Money are You Wanting to Raise? 

Our goal is to raise $4,000 for the 2018 year. We want to reach out to as many communities as possible with the program. Eventually, our maximum goal is $44,000 which will cover Virginia and North Carolina.








Homeless and Helping Them


Homelessness seeps into just about every medium and large city in the United States. Sadly, many of these individuals have very little to look forward too and those that are in local shelters get the basics, a hot meal, often a place to sleep at night and a few basics.

The National Blessing Bag Program helps beyond the general basics.

One of our missions here at the program is to provide homeless people a way to help get a little extra while they are digging themselves out of poverty and back into society.

Most homeless are there because of circumstance and not all homeless people are bad, a lot are simply down on their luck in life. Sure, some are into a life of drugs or crime, but there honest people out there woven into society on all levels of life and that includes homelessness.

Today, I want to share with you some insights that you can do in order to help the homeless in your community.

Beyond the Basics

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being homeless in today's rushed, technological world, is being overlooked. It's a human element that we often take for granted each day, just being noticed or acknowledged, most people that are homeless simply get ignored because of a stereotype that they are the bottom of the bottom.

Simple things like eye drops, a toothbrush and toothpaste, band-aids, things that you and I take for granted everyday mean the world to someone who's trying to get back on their feet.

Something as simple as a new pair of socks, an information packet on local shelters or other resources, a snack, a razor to shave with or a toothbrush can make the world of difference for people whom literally have little to nothing because of various circumstances.

Homeless Scammers

Yes, there are those that pretend to be homeless but they panhandle in order to get money, playing on your emotions in order to live a tax free lifestyle.

Now, homelessness and panhandling rarely coincide with each other, most homeless don't stand on the corners asking for money, most will seek help in other directions before panhandling for example.

You can normally tell real homeless people by the way they are dressed, often times they will have everything they own with them, a bag, a cart filled with items and the like too.

We suggest that if you do decide to help people, try to keep a log of names, locations and dates. It will help you to start to weed out those in need and those that are taking advantage of the resources out there.

In our experiences, when handing out our blessing bags, the ones that want them and will use them will be very appreciative of them and continue to use them.

Helping Get Back Into Society 

The overall goal is to get people off the streets and back into society. While our blessing bags do not solve the world problems, they do help encourage people to seek help, provide them with a little extra and many shelters or organizations overlook or can't provide and they give hope to those just trying to get through the day.






Becoming a National Program

It's one thing to become a local charity and it's another to do it on a national scale. The Blessing Bag Program started with an idea to help those in need in my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. With that in mind I started to fund this little act of service each month myself, buying items that homeless might need but otherwise the local shelters didn't always provide.

From that, I started asking others to help pitch in and I started a Go Fund Me page to help raise $1,200, enough to keep the little program going for a year here in my area. So far, we've raised roughly $700 of the $1200+ needed as of the time of this writing.

I've also done a great job of not just going out into the community and making these bags and handing them out, but I've also gained the attention of a few national corporations that would like to help.


These sponsors would like to help infuse the program into a national non-profit, helping three various types of people, homeless and needy, families with children and senior citizens.

I'm truly excited that I can not just help the community but that others are starting to take notice and want to help too!

I'm currently working on finishing the new website here and setting up the donation form on PayPal and other various technical things that I need to accomplish here like all the legal stuff that goes along with a non-profit (ugh that takes time apparently)

Please take a poke around the website, it's not fully finished yet but Im working on it when Im not rocking my full time job.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me here at questions@blessingbag.net and I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks so MUCH for taking the time to visit the website!

God Bless~

Joshua


testimonial

We have had alot of people come by and they love the bags with tuna or snacks they say its the only thing they have other than our food for them said to thank you so much for all you do!

Kathy Scriver

Roanoke | Virginia

Your bags have helepd saved us here in SE [South East]. As a mother of three, we havent been able to afford even the basics and your bags help get us through the month. Thank YOU guys for what you do.

Teresa Jonston

Roanoke | Virginia

These bags really do a lot of good within the community. From a simple toothbrush or razor, soap and shampoo, everything makes a big difference to those stuggling here in the community. It's nice to see that people still care.

Steven Clark

Roanoke | Virginia

I not only give when I can, I see the results for myself on the side of the streets. I've seen people from the [Rescue] Mission walk around with your bags. While many try to get back into the community, your bags seem to help them, espically when it comes to a job interview!

Sallie Commons

Troutville | Virginia

Blessing Bag Program
1|540|798.0719
Roanoke | Virginia

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