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Empty Brown Bags

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"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" ().

“Girl’s Pants. Boy’s Pants. Girl’s Shirts. Boy’s Shirts. School Supplies, Underwear. Socks. Bibles. Books.” These words were highlighted in large letters on signs leading into various rooms at local distribution sites recently.

A concerned gentleman started organizing donations for families years ago in order to help people in need. He witnessed first-hand the lack of basic supplies while volunteering at an elementary school. Each item a child receives is totally free of cost to the family. Companies, churches, and individuals donate everything needed.

Receiving free school supplies and clothing can be exciting for some children. Other children may be embarrassed knowing they have to receive “free” items because their families can’t afford to purchase needed things for the school year.

Each person navigating the receiving line is greeted by volunteers with smiles, hellos, and an offer to help choose the correct items. While volunteers are blessing families with things they need, volunteers are being blessed through showing the love of God. The blessing comes in helping others. Blessings for the helper and blessings for the receiver.

There is no judgment of the people in line waiting for help. Activities are set up for waiting families. Coloring pages and crayons, books to read, piano music fills the halls and conversations between friends and strangers send a hum of friendliness through the air.

The family name is called and bags are given to each child. The children are encouraged to carry their own bags. Ownership of their new supplies creates a sense of worth and belonging.

God is at work in these places. We are honoring Him and His love for us. Children who entered the building with a frown often leave the building with new friends and a huge smile.

The families are given these free items with no expectation of future payment or any condition.

My husband and I helped with these distributions. Our hearts were touched and we were forever changed by the love shown from the people in need and the love shown by the volunteers.

A simple brown paper grocery bag starting empty and finishing full to the brim with brand new supplies can change the life of a child. Watching sadness change to joy, watching children start the line without saying a word and finish the line chatting and sharing stories about their friends and family, truly brings tears to our eyes.

Waving goodbye to a family and having a child turn and run back to give a hug and say “Thank you” will forever warm our hearts.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” ().

Helping others is following God’s command to "love each other as I have loved you."

Copyright © July 2019 Melissa Henderson, used with permission.

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About The Author


Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers. Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at

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