Operation Christmas Backpack ~ Meeting the Needs of the Homeless

Several years ago, my family and I began a new tradition; we spent Christmas morning distributing Christmas gifts to the homeless people. Today this simple act, with the help of several homeschool families, has grown into what we named Operation Christmas Backpack.

Operation Christmas Backpack Pinnable Image

Operation Christmas Backpack consists of backpacks filled with essential items which include a Bible, a blanket, toiletries, hats and gloves, socks, non-perishable snack foods and drink, along with Chapstick, hand warmers, and tissue. We also include a personal letter or card. On Christmas morning, these backpacks are distributed to the homeless people in our area. Last year my family, along with numerous others, distributed a little over 40 backpacks. This year we have a new goal – 100 backpacks. We are hoping this will allow us to meet even more needs. Ultimately, I would love to see God help spread Operation Christmas Backpack into more areas. This is why I want to take this opportunity to share some basic steps to help you organize an Operation Christmas Backpack ministry in your own hometown. This is something that you can do as a family or with others in your community. Clara Stacko Photo 1

  1. Begin by gathering your friends, family, church members, or a homeschool group and explain to them the purpose behind Operation Christmas Backpack, which is an outreach program to help the homeless people by sharing the gospel with them and meeting some of their physical needs.

  1. Research the cost of ordering a bulk shipment of backpacks (if ordering in large quantities). We purchase 17 inch bags in bulks at bagsinbulk.com bringing the cost of the backpacks down to only $4.00 each (there are 24 bags in a case).

    If you’re doing this as a family, you can purchase your backpacks at a local store.

  1. Find out how many individuals will be filling backpacks. You can assist them by providing a list of items that each person can refer to when filling their backpacks. (They are also free to add additional items of their own choosing.)

  1. If you want to be able to meet more needs, consider asking people to sponsor a bag. This year we are asking people to sponsor backpacks for $30. {We know from last year that it cost about $30 to fill a bag (this also includes the cost of the backpack)}. This gives people an opportunity to be part of something meaningful this Christmas.

  1. If using the sponsoring method, you will want to buy items (hats, gloves, etc.) in bulk amounts. Then schedule a date when everyone can come together to help fill the backpacks. (Children especially love doing this!)

  1. We also chose to contact various grocery stores asking if they would be willing to donate any food items from their bakery which we could distribute alongside the backpacks. If this is also of interest to your group, call your local grocery stores and/or restaurants and speak to the manager. Give them some background information pertaining to your ministry and then ask if they would be interested in donating their leftover Christmas Eve bakery items for this cause.

  1. Near Christmas, check your local paper and/or news channels to learn which churches and/or organizations will be supplying a meal to the homeless on Christmas Day. These are great places to go to in order to distribute your Operation Christmas Backpacks because many homeless people gather at these locations.

We chose to distribute our backpacks on Christmas morning, but you may choose to do it on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas; do whatever works for your family and/or group. I hope these steps will help you in planning your own Operation Christmas Backpack ministry. If you do decide to host an Operation Christmas Backpack in your area, I would love to hear about it.  For more information, contact the Medina Christian Homeschool Friends.  Merry Christmas! Note:  If you are interested in sponsoring an Operation Christmas Backpack, you may contact her for a mailing address. All donations must be received by December 12.

Clara Stacko Bio PhotoClara Stacko is a homeschooling mother of two energetic sons. She is passionate about helping and encouraging her fellow homeschool families and sharing the love of Christ with others. She is also the founder of Medina Christian Homeschool Friends (MedinaCHF), a homeschool support group in her local area. Her favorite hobbies include writing, reading, and scrapbooking. You can learn more about her and her homeschool journey at her blog, A Slice of Homeschool Pie.

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  1. What a wonderful ministry!
    Another idea for year round:
    My husband and I carry in our cars large ziploc bags filled with healthy snacks, water, some cosmetic items and a cross. Whenever we see a homeless person, we hand one to them, always saying “God bless you!”

  2. Great idea! I was actually thinking of organizing something like this. Was actually thinking of having the kids do no-sew blankets (get together and tie them up as a group but the moms will pre cut/ measure) for delivery Christmas night.

    Did your group find out home many homeless gather at the locations or you just brought what you could?

    great tips and help! will be working on this! may contact you at your blog for further ideas/ information.
    thank you!

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