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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Nov 08, 2018

Blessing Bag Brigade- Be the Blessing

Kevin Garrison Blessing Bag Brigade The Journal

This holiday season, The Journal has partnered with the Blessing Bag Brigade NJ to help them deliver bags of hope and comfort to the homeless of Monmouth County and surrounding area.

They’re there… on the coldest nights… in the heat… in the pouring rain. Homeless people endure the days and nights in worn, dirty clothing, in cardboard boxes and tattered tents, sleeping on the streets and parking lots. Monmouth County has more than 300 homeless, and those numbers are much larger in New York City.

There are many causes for homelessness. Estimates say that 25 percent of homeless suffer from mental disorders. Poverty, lack of affordable housing, addictions and debt are some other reasons. Solving the long-term problem is not easy, as it is complicated by many contributing factors and requires numerous experts and counselors. In the meantime, we can “Be the Blessing” to the homeless with small gifts of comfort and love.

Kevin Garrison Blessing Bag Brigade The Journal copy FB 2The Blessing Bag Brigade NJ is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to showing compassion and humanitarianism toward the homeless through gifts of Blessing Bags. These bags include travel-size items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, soap/body wash, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, disposable razor, socks, water, snacks and other personal hygiene items.

The Blessing Bag Brigade NJ is spearheaded by former Middletown resident (now Highlands) and Veteran Kevin Garrison. He works for Amtrak and saw great numbers of homeless people on his nightly trips to Penn Station. Kevin is a man of God, a single parent of two, and operates a soup kitchen in Long Branch once a week. He started slowly collecting and assembling items for the bags and distributing them in Penn Station. His personal giving grew organically, and he now produces over 1,500 bags per month. In addition to distributing the bags in Penn Station, he hands out Blessing Bags in Monmouth County as well.

“In less than two years since its inception, we’ve handed out over 17,500 Blessing Bags to those in need,” Garrison said. “When we pass out the bags, we talk with these people and learn more about them and their stories. There is a lot of misperception about homelessness. Often times they struggle with mental illness and don’t have the capacity or the support network to help them get back on their feet. Often times they have a home, but don’t have the items needed for the home or to care for themselves.”

Kevin Garrison Blessing Bag Brigade The Journal copy FB 4

Kevin with volunteers.

Kevin continues, “Our Blessing Bags are more than just the items in it – they’re an extension of our humanitarianism and a conversation starter to helping those in need. I’ve seen people we’ve helped eventually get jobs, find housing and pick themselves up. That’s why we do what we do.”

This holiday season, you can “Be the Blessing.” Mother Theresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved” as well as “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

Thank you in advance for your generosity and kindness for those in immediate need.

Here’s How You Can Be The Blessing

Each Blessing Bag contains travel-size unisex personal care items that can be immediately used by the homeless, to give them a moment of refreshment.

We are seeking donations of the following items so the Brigade can assemble as many bags as possible. The items include:

  • Snack foods, including breakfast bars
  • Socks
  • Water bottles
  • Travel-size shampoo
  • Travel-size body wash/soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Travel-size toothpaste
  • Travel-size lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable razors

Blessing Bag Brigade Kevin Garrison be-the-blessing-logo-FINALYou don’t have to assemble the bags, you can just donate any number and combination of these items. If you are interested in making a bulk donation for just pennies a product, visit blessingbagbrigadenj.org and click on the Amazon or Walmart link.

Any groups, churches or organizations that would like to set up a collection drive are welcome to contact The Journal at loridraz@gmail.com

 

 

Here is a list of drop-off locations.

A Time to Kiln
50 Broad Street in Red Bank

Hole Lot of Bagels
1171 NJ-35 in Middletown

Infinity Chiropractic Wellness CenterKevin Garrison Blessing Bag Brigade The Journal copy FB 3170 Hwy. 35 in Red Bank

Medimorphosis Physician Assisted Weight Loss
499 Broad Street in Shrewsbury

Middletown Arts Center
36 Church Street in Middletown

Middletown Sports Complex
214 Harmony Road in Middletown

Pinot’s Palette
12 Broad Street in Red Bank