Sewing Tote Bags and
Providing Care Items for the Homeless

The Treasure Coast ecclesia’s outreach began some years ago with a sister who participated in a local sewing group, the Florida Sewing Society. They made large-sized tote bags for the homeless to carry their belongings in. Various workrooms submitted surplus fabrics to the sewing group. These cloth carry bags were much appreciated by the homeless and were much superior to any sort of plastic grocery bags.

One member of the sewing group formulated a pattern and the project got going. The tote bags can be prepared by anyone with a sewing machine, and some knowledge of sewing.  Cutting out the material, and assembly will take a bit more than an hour, depending on material used, and the skills of the individual seamstress.  The only things needed are a sewing machine, scissors, a yardstick, fabric and thread.  An app called the Neighborhood App can be used to find nearby surplus fabric from neighbors or one can put an ad in  a local newspaper.  If one has to purchase the fabric, a yard and ¼ of 54 inch fabric should be enough for two tote bags, (assuming you are using the pattern that is posted on the garden website for this project). Alternatively, reusable grocery bags cab be purchased at fairly low cost.

From this initial tote bag work, the advent of the Garden and its grants allowed us to shift the work to our ecclesia. All of the sisters in our small ecclesia have been enrolled in making the tote bags. We then assemble in someone’s garage and fill the bags with various personal care items: shampoo, razors, washcloth/towel, combs, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, soap, socks, tissues, feminine hygiene items. We make and fill 24 tote bags at a time and, on the advice of the charity we donate them to, we make 8 for men and 16 for women. The charity is focused on providing a place to stay for otherwise homeless families (go to to learn about them) and offers many other services as well, focused on making them self-sufficient. According to the charity, the recipients find the bags themselves especially welcome.

With the support of the Garden we have been able to now provide 24 filled bags to these homeless families and individuals via this charity on four separate occasions about 4-6 months apart! We supplement the Garden’s grant with an equal amount of ecclesial funds so we can provide all of the personal care items we want to.