What says “Christmas” like a bag? There is Santa’s bag on the back of his sleigh, of course. Mail carrier bags are looking heavier these days as they deliver so many red-enveloped Christmas cards. Even the Grinch had “some old empty sacks.” (Which he filled, then emptied.)
Then there are the shopping bags – Oh! The Shopping bags! – with handles or without, filled with white tissue and flat boxes, made of paper or plastic, pushed in carts, looped over elbows, and all hidden in closets for one more week.
Then there are these bags:
Every month this community food cupboard packs 300 grocery bags that are then delivered to the homes of mostly elderly and multigenerational families. Each household’s bags are filled from the cupboard’s shelves based on a pre-printed shopping list; some are designated for a low-sodium or a diabetic diet. Sometimes the list is designated for both.
They get the staples, just like you and I do when we make a shopping list: peanut butter, milk, eggs, canned soup, canned fruit, beans, cereal, pasta, sauce, and tuna. This month we had a couple of bonus items: tea bags and rolls of toilet paper. A real bounty is when we can include a bar of soap.
If the list indicates a household with children (often custodial grandparents), we “sweeten the bag” by searching the food cupboard’s shelves for one-off extras like a cake mix with frosting.
This is another local food cupboard that provides weekly bags of grocery staples to qualifying households. They also manage a backpack program during the school year that fills the bag with food and snacks to feed that child through a weekend. And, every fall they distribute backpacks filled with school supplies.
At Christmas-time their basement resembles what Santa’s workshop must look like right now. Each big bag holds a family’s entire Christmas:
Both places are very busy filling bags. We fill these bags with the simple things that we have to give, and that can make a big difference in a life.
We fill them with jars of peanut butter, or packs of pencils, or this season’s hottest action figure. We tuck in a little hope. We double-bag it in love. We deliver it full, then take it back empty. And repeat.