Every six months, the Verdugo Hills Ecclesia plans an afternoon to prepare at least 50 “Homeless Bags”. Each family or person in the Ecclesia takes two or more bags to hand out to the homeless that they can find so easily here in southern California.


Photographer’s note: “This was taken about halfway up the block on the east side of Broadway, between 79th and 80th Street. It’s at the north end of the “Filene’s Basement” store on the corner, and it’s a place where I’ve often seen homeless people holding up a sign that asks for assistance…With very rare exceptions, I haven’t photographed these homeless people; it seems to me that they’re in a very defensive situation, and I don’t want to take advantage of their situation. But something unusual was happening here: the two women (who were actually cooperating, and acting in tandem, despite the rather negative demeanour of the woman on the left) were giving several parcels of food to the young homeless man on the right. I don’t know if the women were bringing food from their own kitchen, or whether they had brought it from a nearby restaurant. But it was obviously a conscious, deliberate activity, and one they had thought about for some time…What was particularly interesting was that they didn’t dwell, didn’t try to have a conversation with the young man; they gave him they food they had brought, and promptly walked away. As they left, I noticed the young man peering into his bag (the one you see on the ground beside him in this picture) to get a better sense of the delicious meal these two kind women had brought him…

What do you do?

Every six months on our ecclesial schedule we plan an afternoon after Memorial Service to prepare at least 50 “Homeless Bags”.  We stuff a ziplock bag full of things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, personal hygiene items, socks, non perishable food, a bottle of water and at least one copy of The Glad Tidings Magazine. Then each family or person in the Ecclesia takes two or more bags to hand out to the homeless that they can find so easily here in southern California.

How much work is involved?

One or two members take charge of the list of items needed and members sign up for which items they will contribute. Some people choose to donate money so we can use that to purchase items. The items need to be set out on tables so the bags can be assembled. Then taking the bags and distributing them is the final task.

How long have you been doing this?

Several years.

Have you had a good response?

Putting the bags together is done by all but usually the teens and kids, with great enthusiasm, have it done before the rest of the folks can get over to help!

Are there any issues which have arisen?

A few members don’t like taking the bags and having to find a homeless person. Some people on the street want the bag you offer. Others might decline. Eventually all the bags do get distributed.

Here is an example of the list we use for our Homeless Bags. We keep an inventory of the number of items we have on hand, the number  we need, and the name of the member who has agreed to supply the item.  We update the list as needed.

Item needed:                                On Hand                   Need                   Provided by

50 Ziploc Bags (gallon)

50 Water Bottles

50 Food items

50 Toothbrush

50 Toothpaste

50 Body Wash or soap

50 Shampoo

50 Chapstick

50 Combs

50 Wet Wipes (Snack bag w/5ea)

50 Deodorant

50 Q-tips (Snack bag w/10ea)

50 Tissue (Kleenex)

50 Men’s Socks

50 Band Aids(Snack bag w/5ea)

50 Mints/Gum