BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — “I was personally doing blessing bags and I had a certain goal I wanted to do each month," said Colleen Scanlon.
Colleen keeps bags filled with necessities in her car. She and her daughter hand them out to the homeless.
“I just thought, okay we [have] to be able to do this bigger and better. Not necessarily for any glory, just to reach as many people as we can," she said.
Colleen is the administrative assistant at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. She decided to get the community involved, so she went to her boss and turned her “Blessing Bags” into a ministry.
“We’re working with the Bakersfield Police Department and the Mission at Kern County," she said.
Right now, 100 blessing bags are divided between BPD and the mission each month but Colleen said the goal is to raise that number to 200. The bags are filled with items like hygiene products, hand warmers and granola bars
"The homeless population really, really enjoys the bags. They’re a true blessing when we give them to them," said Sergeant Verion Coleman.
He said they can make all the difference when working with the homeless.
“Once you approach them and give them that type of stuff, it completely changes our interaction with them which is awesome and is exactly what we want with our community," he said.
Sergeant Coleman said interactions can feel tense but the blessing bags build positive relationships and provide tangible resources.
“The first time when we didn’t have the bags, we’re met with, you know, they’re mad at us, they’re cursing at us. And then we started giving the bags and blessing these folks with it, and now they see us and like, 'Alright Sergeant Coleman, we’re leaving, we’re leaving,’ and they’re picking their trash up and they’re getting up without any problems and that’s the impact something like this has. [It’s] really positive and we really appreciate it," said Sergeant Coleman.
The items in the blessing bags are donated to the church by community members. Colleen said people have also written letters for the bags, reminding the homeless they’re seen and supported.
“It just warms my heart because there’s such a need for it in the community and so many people were willing to just jump up and help," she said.
Items and letters can be dropped off at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at 12300 Reina Rd.
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