It’s no secret that homelessness is a major issue in Manatee County. You don’t have to look far to find someone who is down on their luck and in need of a helping hand. One Bradenton organization – The Blessing Bag Project – has been working hard to provide the area’s homeless population with the necessities many of us take for granted.
What Does the Blessing Bag Project Do?
This organization creates simple care kits, called “blessing bags,” and distributes them to those in need throughout our community. The bags contain necessities like toiletries, socks, or other items that the homeless and hungry people on our streets can use right away.
The Blessing Bag Project also helps to feed the soul of the community by holding dinners once a month in partnership with Hungers End, which has headquarters on 14th Street in Bradenton. In addition, they do a “feet on the street” outreach every other Friday where they hand out bagged lunches, blankets, and other essentials to those living without stable housing.
While adults might be the ones you commonly see on the streets, there are sadly many children in need as well. To bring some joy to their lives, The Blessing Bag Project also plans and organizes a Breakfast With Santa at Swordfish Grill in Cortez each year.
Having the event on the water allows Santa to coast in on a boat with toys and goodies for all the 80 children in attendance. Many of the children who come to the event are neglected, in foster care, or are experiencing housing insufficiency with their parents.
The History of the Blessing Bag Project
It was an average day when the project’s founder, Betsy Plante, felt called upon to create the non-profit foundation she named The Blessing Bag Project. This charity began back in 2014 after she had attended a networking meeting as an independent sales rep for a cosmetic brand.
Although her original goal in attending the meeting was to find new customers for her makeup and skincare line, what she left with was far more valuable – an inspired idea to help people in the community.
Since arriving in Bradenton in 2007, Betsy has come to count on a large network of friends and community members who help her with The Blessing Bag Project. She is especially proud of the children’s ministry they do and spends quite a bit of the year shopping for toys and supplies for all the blessings bags they give out.
The Blessing Bag Project is a 100 percent volunteer-based foundation, and they do all their own grassroots fundraising without a grant writer. Betsy says she’s incredibly grateful for the help since it only takes “one person at a time” to make a difference in people’s lives. This is especially true when giving a helping hand to those who are experiencing homelessness or are in a recovery program.
Your Support Can Make a Major Difference
It’s such a blessing that people like Betsy and those who share her passion are willing to give their time and resources to support this project. Betsy says there has never been a greater need than there is right now.
If you would like to learn more about The Blessing Bag Project and ways that you can help, check out their Facebook page, or visit their website at www.theblessingbagsproject.org. Here, you’ll find out how to partner, volunteer, or donate to this very worthwhile organization.