Hello, Welcome to

Blessing Bags

Helping People Grow... Within the Local Community... One Bag at a time... #HelpingPeopleGrow Homeleness Those in poverty Faith Based Supported by YOU

Helping People Grow...

Hello and

Welcome to Blessing Bags

Joshua Gabrielson | Director and Founder

The Blessing Bag Program is a 501c3 non-profit that provides bags filled with hygiene and related items to those that are homeless, families living below the poverty level, senior citizens that live by themselves and children that are in need. Our program grows just about every week as we work with churches and other organizations to help pass out our bags to those in need. The program operates in 24 states and we are always looking for people to help in various ways.

What We Do


We want to be able to connect with homeless and help succeed with being able to help them each month.

Senior Citizens

Many seniors simply can't get the items they need to function and we help them by providing bags.

Families in Need

We also create and pass out bags for families with kids, living below the poverty line of $15,000 annually.

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 eventually 20,000 people 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.


Homeless in America


Million in Poverty


Costs to Make a Bag


Donations This Year

In the News

Blessing Bag Secrets No One Tells You

Secrets to Blessing Bags that No One Tells You

When it comes to creating and handing out Blessing Bags, no one tells you those little secret that can help with your bottom line. Your bottom line, the amount of funding that you spend on making these bags can vary greatly from organization to organization, how often you create them and ultimately what goes inside of them too.

Well, today I want to share with you a few secrets that you can use to help maximize your return on investment and stretch those dollars even further with making your blessing bags.

Buy In Bulk

As you already know, you should buy in bulk when you can. But did you know that when you contact store managers many times they will help discount some items if you ask them?

Give it a try. Head into your local department store and ask to speak with a manager. Explain to them that you are in the process of creating blessing bags and you are looking for generic items to place inside the bags at discounted prices. Ask if they have any overstocked items that you could purchase at a small discount and see if you can take them off their hands.

Many times, stores will have something extra they could part with for a deep discount. Recently, when I was in my local Target store for example, I was able to score a couple of boxes of toothpaste for our program at 80% off.

Amazon Basics

One of the best secrets out there on the market is purchasing Amazon Basics in bulk. I bet you didn't know that Amazon has a complete line of bulk travel items at huge discount prices. They have a product line of travel items that I recommend that you purchase called Eco Amenities.

Their generic brand of travel sized items is a perfect solution when you are looking to acquire at very affordable pricing. Blessing Bags purchases a majority of our items through them and because we purchase so many, we get a deeper discount than even what's listed.

You can get everything from shampoo, soaps, lotions, SPF lotion, conditioner, toothpaste, brushes and much more.

Dollar General Penny Sales

Also, I would recommend that you check out the Dollar General Penny Sales. There is a Facebook group that works with others in providing these great deals and yes they do exist. 

This is how it works. When the good folks at DG stop carrying an item in stock they are supposed to take it off the shelves and return it to the warehouse. Many times they forget to do this within the allotted time-frame and if the stock is on the shelf after the discontinued date, their computer systems mark them down to literally, one penny. 

Here at Blessing Bags, we've only been able to discover one personal account of this, when we were looking for more deodorants for our bags we noticed that local DG stores discontinued a select scent of Speed Stick and we were able to gab about 150 of them for literally a few bucks. Granted, we had to travel to 6 local DG stores to achieve this but we did save quite a lot in the process. 

Work with Other Groups

Making bags is one thing, handing them out to people who need them is another. While your intent is to work with homeless people, you can also work with other demographics in the process as well, senior citizens, veterans, adoption centers, families in dire need are just a handful of other groups in need that you can focus on.

One key ingredient that you should look for is to find other organizations that deal with these demographics and offer your blessing bags to them. Often times it can be difficult to connect with the types of people that you want to have your bags int he first place and usually, some other organization is helping them in other ways. So it's best to connect with organizations that already deal with the people you are seeking. For example, if you have a local food bank that works with families in need, offer to place your bags with them as they will be able to hand out your bags for free and many times faster than you could as well.

Our team here works mostly with churches that have some sort of mission or food bank program. You can find our bags in 24 states across 98 different churches. 

Sponsor a Blessing Bag

Sponsor a Blessing Bag with Your Name or Business

For just $1 a month, you can proudly sponsor a blessing bag each month with your family name, a business name or church name listed on it!

By donating just $1 per month you will be helping to donate to our non-profit public charity! Money donated will be used to create more blessing bags and each month we will print a label to the inserts of the cards. It's a great way to help support our cause!

When you signup, we will create a bag in your name each month and these bags will be passed out locally to the community. That's 12 bags a year with you're message, maybe your website name, business name, family name or something simple such as "From People that Care" if you want to be generic. Plus, we will add you to our list of donors below!

37% of our Goal

Things you can put on the label will always start with: "This Blessing Bag Provided by" followed by your two line message. It can include any of the following:

  • Individual or Family 
  • Church or Organization
  • Business or Company
  • Sports Team or Club
  • Put a message or scripture verse 
  • Website  

Your donation of $12 ($1 each month) is tax deductible and as always, 100% of your donations goes to funding and creating these bags.

To get started, click the donate link below and fill out the PayPal form. Once complete, we will email you shortly there after with the name or message that you want on the blessing bags! In the field labeled "Other Amount", put in $12 or if you wish to donate more you can do so. For every $12 we will add an additional bag each month.

Best Way to Build Blessing Bags

Building Blessing Bags the Smart Way

When it comes to putting blessing bags together, there is an easy way and a hard way. While we all know this, many churches or other organizations tend to operate in a hard way.

Truth be told, you can often times create blessing bags with just one or two people and today I'm going to share with you some insights on how we make blessing bags here at our organization. Our insights should help you in your own endeavors in building these bags for your local community.

Assembly Line

If you're going to make these bags, the best way is to have an assembly line of some sort. The best thing to do is setup an operation table where you can build a bag and have a box to put them in at the end.

Normally an 8ft folding table or location with enough space should be good enough to create the bags. On the left end of the table, start with the plastic bags and inserts themselves. Here at our non-profit, we use the Blessing Bag Postcards as inserts.

From there, we have 2-3 large totes at any given time filled with the various items people have donated to the program or items we purchase through our volume discount pricing with places like Wal-Mart or Amazon.

Starting from the left, take a bag, place an insert if you have one, then slowly take the bag and walk down the table and place your items into the bags until the bag it full or meets your own requirements.

At the end, we keep a large tote where we place the finished bag and keep them in large 20 gallon totes for storage until use.

Creating a station like this will enable a single person to create anywhere from 50-100 bags per hour. And since most of the items are in larger totes, as a tote becomes empty, we simply stop the assembly process and place the empty tote with a full one of similar items.

Additionally, we try to keep a food tote at the end of the assembly line. This helps prevent food from being crushed by other items and it keeps the food or snack items at the top of the bag, more likley to be used first and foremost.

The 20 gallons totes generally fit about 65-75 bags within reason and on a normal 8 hour work day a volunteer can create several hundred bags for the organization. 

While your church or organization might not produce the level of bags that we do, you can easily replicate this process on a smaller scale or setup several of these mini work stations to fill the bags.

How Blessing Bags Make an Impact

The Impact of a Blessing Bag

As you create and pass out blessing bags within your own area, be it our bags that we offer to churches and other non profits or your own DIY Blessing Bags, it's important to understand the impact of what passing out bags can do.

Getting Data back from your blessing bags can be key in how you further pass them out in the future. The reality however, is that you can't ask a homeless person to jump online and fill out a survey, so what can you do?

Old Fashion Talking

One of the keys in getting back feedback for the bags you pass out is simply asking. believe it or not, many people, regardless of lifestyle or situation, can give you feedback.

When I was first starting out a couple years ago with passing out Blessing Bags, I would often get feedback. One of the first changes I made in the bags was by feedback I got from women. They would tell me that they could really use feminine products, something that I never really thought about to begin with. The same thing for our senior citizen Blessing Bags too.

So after a while I started to change a handful of the bags to help with issues just like that. Labeling them with a small dot or mark on the mark the bag will help determine what to pass out to whom and that's a smart idea to help identify the bag types if you can.

Feedback From Other Organizations 

You can also get feedback from the organizations that hand out your blessing bags too. For example, our public charity works with many churches and many other non profits that reach out to places where we can't.

We recently had an organization tell us that the foiled tuna pouches that we started placing in our bags was not only a big hit, but many people wanted more of them. Take my friend Kathy, she works for another non profit called Helping SouthEast. We provide blessing bags to them every other month and we got some positive feedback in what we do.

Impact, Impact, IMPACT!

Perhaps the BEST type of feedback is by people themselves that use blessing bags. While you will not normally get much int he way of feedback, sometimes it does come across every now and then.

If you receive feedback, good or bad, then you are starting to make an impact within the community. As you start to provide bags on a regular basis, you will hopefully start to see some great changes locally but also you will see an increase in demand for your bags too.

Always listen to what others have to say and adjust your bags contents as needed or during the time of year. For example, if you live in a part of the United States where winters are cold, change your bags contents to include cheap gloves or a pair of socks. In areas that see really hot summers, change the bag by providing SPF sunblock or lip baum.

Blessing Bag Printable Checklist

Official Blessing Bag Printable Checklist

If you are looking for the Official Blessing Bag Checklist that you can print or download and use, you are in luck! Our non-profit program offers the first checklist that is used by most churches and organizations in the USA.

The printable checklist is a rough guide that provides you a working list of items we purchase or collect and place inside each bag.

For the following type we recommend:

  • Homeless Person 8-10 items, all travel sized and use a quart sized bag.
  • Families with children use a larger gallon sized or brown paper bag, 10-14 items.
  • Seniors, 8-10 items in a quart or gallon sized bag. 
  • Veterans should get the same as seniors, 8-10 items in a quart or gallon sized bag.  

We offer this checklist in a PDF format  as well as text based below.

Blessing Bags Helping Homeless in Roanoke VA

Hi friends!

As the month of February has come, 2018 has not slowed our little program down much in the way of helping others here.

Ariel, a Roanoke College graduate recently reached out to our small non-profit in hopes that we could help a homeless man Karrit and his dog Gür. Since Thanksgiving they have been living in the van as they made their way from Mississippi here to visit family in the Roanoke area. 

After a long stay, he started to head back only to find out the van had issues running. Back in December, he had a kind couple offer to help fix the van so he could get back to work and be on his merry way. 

Well, as life tends to happen sometimes, the van took a turn for the worse and working day jobs at the temp agency wasn't going to cut it anymore. The van stopped running. 

Since Karrit and the pup lived in the van, running it was a source of heat during the cold snap we had last month and in the evenings. 

After Ariel asked me to help, our program put together a Go Fund Me in order to help him out. After raising more than $700, we turned to help by posting on social media and asking people to help with no just costs but repairs to the van. 

We had three people pay for him to stay in a motel near the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, all whom wanted to remain remain anonymous. At $50 a night the three citizens helped pay roughly $350 for him to stay there.

During this time I met up with Karrit to deliver the first round of funding that came through from Go Fund Me. Talk about an awesome and humble guy here. I was happy to give him some lunch from Hardee's and a $300 gift card, 1st of two.

After meeting with him for about 25 minutes I had to get back to work (I do work full time) and continued my search for help with regards to the van repairs here.

Well, today after reaching out to a few people, Pat Janney, a local mechanic was able to meet up with Karrit today and they got the van up and running after purchasing a part for the van.

Karrit left and Pat Janney right after they fixed the van. 
After confirming this, we're happy to announce the van is repaired, Karrit and Gur have one more night in the motel and they will be on their way back to Mississippi later this weekend!

Together, with the help of Ariel, Pat and many others whom wish to remain silent, were able to help get him off the streets for a few days, repair his van and even have some funding to help cover fuel, food and other needed things along the way.

Our organizations mission is to "Help People Grow" and sometimes that means a little more than Blessing Bag from time to time. While some people only had discouraging words to offer, the few that helped out with their actions shows that there are STILL great people in and around the Roanoke Valley!

We will continue to keep the GFM page up and running for a couple more days and we'll keep in touch with Karrit to make sure they get back to their home. 

Blessing Bags for Families in Poverty

Blessing Bags for Families in Poverty

While people tend to think of Blessing Bags as being mainly for homeless there is a entirely different and much larger category of people that can use them too, families in poverty. According to the Federal Safety Net, roughly 12.7% of Americans currently live in poverty, below the federal limits on income each year. 

That shouldn't surprise you by any means. It's estimated that 5.6 million families in the United Stated live at or far below the poverty level depending on the family size. 

If an average family size of 4 lives below $24,600, they are considered below the poverty line. 

How Blessing Bags Can Help

One of the biggest questions that I get with the non profit program is how can a small Blessing Bag help someone? 

Truth be told it will not make you rich, it will not pay the bills and it won't turn you into a millionaire....let a lone $10. 

BUT what it does do it provide small amount of relief when it comes to buying hygiene related products such as toothpaste, deodorant and a razor. For many, it provides a way to clean themselves up for an upcoming job interview, maybe it helps keep the status quote at work, sometimes it just helps people to feel good to be able to clean and care for themselves. 

Usually Blessing Bags are valued under $10 and they need to be. 

The main point of providing a blessing bag to anyone is to help them with items that other larger organizations sometimes forget. In just about every major city in the United States we have missions of some sort. Many provide food and shelter, some provide clothing and job skills, teaching people how to manage money and to help get them back on their feet. 

Think of a Blessing Bag as the mortar that holds everything together. Things such as soap, shampoo and toothbrushes are inexpensive but those are things that some families often do without if they're on a very tight budget. 

Do you buy cheap ramen noodles to eat this week or shampoo to wash your hair? a single dollar isn't much to most, but to the families living in poverty is literally means eating or just hanging on by a sheer thread. 

What it Takes to Make a Blessing Bag

The process is pretty simple and somewhat affordable. For every 100 bags that you create, you will need a good budget, a Blessing Bag checklist and time to create these bags. 

Cost is definitely something to consider when making bags for families and the amount of family members can also effect what goes into each bag or the size of each one too.

Blessing Bags has found that a family bag costs about $8-12 more per bag than it does for the smaller ones we create for homeless and seniors too.

If you take an average family of 4, purchasing items at a dollar store is more cost effective for the family. We usually put full sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste and even bulk toothbrushes. 

Although the family can get more use from the use of full sized items, our organization benefits more from the travel sized packaging. We recommend sticking with travel sized items in the family bags and consider putting more than one species item in each for the families. For example, instead of one travel shampoo/conditioner put three or four in the family bag. Unless you have buying power with some major organizations you can expect to pay about $400-500 for every 50 bags. Programs like ours are able to work with national corporations on a regular basis and because of our relationships are able to get the cost of a blessing bag to about $2.60 per bag, sometimes less depending on the products we squire.

For 50 Family Blessing bags consider the following items: 

  • 100 Travel Sized Shampoo/Conditioner bottles
  • 100 Razors
  • 100 travel shaving creams
  • 100 travel tissues
  • 50 feminine products (for the ladies)
  • 100 Lip balms or Chapsticks
  • 100 Soaps
  • 100 SPF lotions (travel size)
  • 100 Ziplock Style Quart Bags

Blessing Bags Non Profit

While many churches and organizations help with creating Blessing Bags, there are actually only a handful of 501c3 non-profit organizations that carry the name and operate full-time creating and distributing these bags. 

As one of the 4 non-profits in the United States that solely provides Blessing Bags, ours is a little unique in the sense that we work with churches and other non-profits in the US to help get our bags out to those that need them. 

We currently have these churches and non profit organizations in 24 states and we grow just about every month with new locations in the United States. Each of our distribution points offers at least put homeless blessing bags, others carry our fa!ily and senior bags as well.

Blessing Bags for Senior Citizens

Senior Blessing Bags

We currently have a limited supply of senior blessing bags still available for the public at no charge. These bags are much larger than our normal Blessing Bags and they are designed with senior citizens in mind.

In order to get your free bag you must be able to click on an ad for us below which helps supply us with a few cents for our budget and fill out the online form below.

These are only available during our drop-off's each month and we will not ship or drop them off at homes due to our liability insurance.

Step 1: Click an Ad below (or to the right on your desktop) to help fund us.

Step 2: Fill out the online form and we will gladly save a bag during our next drop off event in Roanoke.

Online contact and registration forms from Wufoo.

Items to Avoid Putting inside Blessing Bags

If you are putting together a Blessing Bag Checklist, you need to understand that not everything you place into the bags is a smart idea. While the thought might be sound, the actual use of the things you are putting into the bags themselves might not be as pleasing to the end user. I would like to share with you some things that you should NOT put into Blessing Bags and give you the reasons why.


One of the number one things I always tell people if they are planning to make their Blessing Bags is not to put any cash inside them. Even a couple of bucks. Now, this is the part where you're thinking in your head- "But Josh, why? It's ONLY a few bucks."

Listen, the idea behind a Blessing Bag is to be a blessing. I understand you want to help people out,
be it to make a phone call or for them to buy food, but many people will simply use it to buy a beer, put it towards a pack of cigarettes or drugs. The physiological factor to consider here is a factor to think about.

What put them into a homeless situation to begin with? How long have they been homeless and do they have a plan to get out of this rut and get back into a normal part of society?

The answers will vary from person to person, sure. I completely get that. But I also understand that if you're just handing out free money, you can also enable that person to just stay in the current path they are on.

Under any circumstances should you NEVER give a homeless person cash. Buy them something to eat, something to wear, take them in if you want too, but don't give them cash.

Gift Cards

While gift cards are better, they can still be traded in for value. I have found in my own non-profit here many people take advantage of the Blessing Bags, sometimes signing up under 3-4 various names only to get the bags with gift cards in them. While they were usually $5-$10 at places like McDonald's or Walmart, grabbing a few bags add's up and suddenly they have $20-30 where they can sell or trade for something else.

Many people do enjoy getting the cards in the bags, but I have also seen homeless people literally fight over a $5 gift card that we used to place in them, so we simply stopped offering them all together.


I also recommend putting only foods that have a long shelf life and ones that don not melt. Too many times i have people donate things like chocolate for the bags we make here. Listen, that's awesome, but candy melts in the bags and when they do, it get all over everything!

If you're going to put foods inside your blessing bags to hand out then try to think about small items that will not melt or go bad after a few days.

Peanut butter crackers, chewing gum, granola bars are always popular items to put inside the bags. One of the best items that we've been able to put inside them so far are the foil tuna and chicken pouches. They're small, they last a long time and honestly people enjoy them and have given us a lot of positive feedback on them too.

Try to avoid fruits or even those containers of applesauce or fruit with the juice in them. Often times they will leak if the blessing bag is placed with other items in book-bags, suitcases and the like and it can make a mess of things.

Full Sized Items

While full sized items like shampoo and toothpaste might sound like a great idea, most times it's really not so for the homeless person that lives on the streets. You need to understand that the purpose of a Blessing Bag is for the short term, a week, maybe two tops. Think about it form the homeless persons point of view. You have a couple of bags filled with your worldly possessions, clothes, person items and what not. The LAST thing you want to do is lug around full sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and the like.

Try to focus on travel sized items that homeless people can use for a short duration says director Joshua Gabrielson of the Blessing Bag Program.

"People need to understand what it's like living on the streets, while handing out things to homeless people are great, most have no place to put a grocery bag full of items let alone a gallon sized bag. The best size for a Blessing Bag is a quart sized Ziploc style bag."
There are many places that you can pick up travel sized items in bulk and if you work with the manufacturers or distributors directly, you can often get at cost or close to at cost for them too. Think about the items that you can get when you stay at a hotel, they're small, use for a few days type of items.


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

As a single mother of 3 and struggling to find full time work here in the Charlotte NC area, I found your business card by chance when visiting a local church in the area. I reached out to you guys and you send us 4 of your blessing bags. Wow, what a God send. The kids needed new toothbrushes and we needed the basics such as the shampoo and soap that were in the bags too. Because of your program, you’re helping us here in small ways that truly mean the world.

Kathline West

Charlotte | North Carolina

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

Richmond | Virginia

Blessing Bag Program
Roanoke | Virginia