Personal Emergency Care Bags
Several times a year, here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs, we have clients who are in extreme need. These are those who may be experiencing:
- water damage
- fleeing for safety
- or other other unique situations
This is when we have to step in and provide the barest of basic essentials. These are people in an emergency situation. So rather than supplying items such as beds, TV’s, and other bulky items, we need to give them simpler, but very vital items.
What Are These Basic Vital Items?
Imagine your home being on fire last night and you were able to only escape with the clothes on your back. Some of the immediate items that you will be needing while you figure out your next step are simple, but huge, when you no longer have them.
Items such as:
- clothes, socks, undergarments, and shoes
- bath towels and facecloths to call your own
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- hairbrush and comb
- maybe even a purse and wallet so you can start to gather up important documents and identifying cards again.
- How about your own bottle of shampoo/conditioner?
- And if a woman, you may need some feminine hygiene products
- razors are needed for both men and women
- Children might need even a small stuffed toy to just bring some comfort
- Notebook and pen to jot down important information and appointments
- a copy of the Muskoka/Parry Sound Community Assistance Directory
- if in the winter, you would need a hat, mitts, and a scarf too.
These are just some of the bare basics that you would need to try and start putting your life back together again.
Small items to start calling your own once again. But items that help to EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Different Bags For Different Needs
At Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs, we try to assemble Personal Emergency Care Bags that are unique to each situation. For instance, if it is the middle of summer, you won’t be needing the winter hat and mitts right away. However, you might need some bug spray or sun screen.
Depending on the donated items available to us, we will assemble separate bags for men, women, and even the children.
Yes, we will try to make some sort of bag even for the children. A bag that might contain some small toys, paper, crayons, or markers when available. We’ve all heard about “art therapy” to help children through difficult trauma. We try to tuck a few small items in so that the child may start to do that quickly on their own.
As more and more adults are doing coloring books, even tucking a page into a care bag would provide this same “art therapy” to an adult too.
And don’t forget about the comfort of a stuffed animal, no matter the age of the child.
Yes, Even A Stuffed Toy
One day there was a car accident right out in front of our home. Although no one was seriously injured, there was a child in the backseat of one vehicle. After ensuring all occupants were physically not injured and waiting for police and ambulance, I ran back into our house. I quickly returned with a stuffed animal for the child.
The child was obviously frightened and I gave the child the stuffed toy and said, “Hey, here is a buddy you can keep. Talk to him, and let him know what you are feeling. He’ll listen and when you are done, if you give him a big hug, he’ll hug you back. It will make you feel better.”
After a few minutes, I glanced back at the child and she was whispering into the toy’s ear and then hugging really tight. She continued to hug this toy tightly several times over the next while. But I also noticed her body language relax. She was no longer as tense and stiff as she had been when I first gave her the toy.
Never underestimate the comfort that a toy can bring a child. No matter the age, yes, even the teenagers. Maybe especially the teenagers.
In this day and age of high demands and stress, a teenager may need the childhood comfort of a stuffed toy even more.
Personal Hygiene Items
These bags are made to not be too cumbersome and contain as many as 15 items or more. However, whenever possible, we try to provide a full size bottle of things such as shampoo, bar of soap, or toothpaste tube.
But we also will make up baggies of sample sizes as well. A baggie such as that would contain:
- travel size shampoo and conditioner
- bar soap
- and hand cream
In this case, it will only do the person a day or two. But sometimes, that will be all that is needed until they are able to access other community resources or start to purchase their own items of choice through insurance money.
Special Treats Included Too
Whenever possible, if we have any individually wrapped candies or sweets, we will tuck something like that into the bag too. A special surprise to bring a smile to the recipient.
Even some bags of herbal teas, or packages of hot chocolate can be tucked in.
The goal of these bags is to bring some immediate relief of providing some basic essentials immediately, but also to bring a smile.
Where Did The Idea For These Bags Come From?
The notion for these actually came about over 10 years ago. At the time we were introduced to another wonderful organization called: Sew On Fire. This is a group of volunteers who sew and assemble similar emergency care bags. Their bags are then distributed world wide. Whether it be to:
- expectant mothers,
- new babies,
- or for the homeless.
I was thrilled with this notion. At that time, I took the time and sewed several hundreds of these emergency bags for them. I had plenty of material, thread, and the drawstring supplies. Each bag is sewn up from a piece of material that is about 15 inches by 10 inches. A bag that size is not too cumbersome, yet can hold an assortment of about 15 items.
After a few years I realized that right here in our own community, we needed to have bags such as these available for our own regional needs.
So, we now assemble Personal Emergency Care Bags for the needs of our immediate community.
However, if you would like to volunteer to assist with a program such as this, and you don’t live in our region, check out: Sew On Fire. They have a location both in Ontario and in the Western Provinces. You can check their website and get an updated list on the current items they are in need of.
And they hand out filled bags world wide, even to Canadian regions such as northern Canada, or to the homeless on the streets of larger cities. A very worthy cause indeed.
How Can You Help?
You can help out by either donating personal care items such as we’ve mentioned. If you have the skills and time, perhaps you’d be interested in sewing some personal care bags for us or an organization in your own region.
Or perhaps, you have the funds available to you to pick up extra toothbrushes and toothpaste when on sale for $0.88-$1 each. Then you could donate them to a women’s shelter, men’s shelter, or an organization that assists the homeless. Perhaps your community has an Out Of The Cold program.
There are many, many ways that you can reach out and assist someone in need. And it doesn’t need to be either complicated or expensive.
When there are disasters or emergencies in your own community or somewhere close by—remember, sometimes the biggest help at the immediate moment is as simple as a Personal Emergency Care Bag.