This guest post by Mama J and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
M.D recently posted a survey and invited comments on whether the Pack were willing to help neighbors or strangers in a survival situation. This is one of the hardest parts of prepping for me. I do not have many neighbors that would be dependent on us, though a few. Our rural neighborhood will come together to help them. Not just one family.
I don’t believe I would be able to turn away homeless hungry children. Not without great emotional cost. Actually, my family plans on keeping me away from stray children. We have adopted several.
If I have enough for my family and we have the means, I want to have some way to help as many people as I can, even if it is for a short time. One gift of a hot meal, a clean body, a kind gesture. To ease the suffering of a child is the greatest gift I can imagine. These packs are designed as a starter kit or a temporary kit for short-term assistance.
In a large disaster and all infrastructure collapses I can imagine a lot of displaced folks wondering down the road with their children. Looking for sanctuary, or a meal. I feel I must do something. If this comes to pass and I run out, at least I know I did everything I could for as many as possible.
One of my favorite things to do is “Treasure Hunt”. Yard sales. Thrift stores, Salvation Army, Craigslist, Free-cycle. On my journey I have seen so many items that can be put to good use, so I started building Charity Packs.
Before I say anything else, I must stress that you MUST prep for yourselves first! We have been prepping for over a decade. When you feel like you have sufficient stores for yourself and have extra items, put them to use here. Even with a limited income we all tend to have extra items laying about. Even one or two packs would be helpful.
I have $20.00-$30.00 budget per week to Treasure Hunt. Mostly I buy items for my family list on this budget. Some weeks I don’t find anything. Some weeks I hit the Mother Lode. Once in a while I find something so incredible I dip into the savings.
If I have funds left I buy items at the Dollar Store.
Ask your friends to save items for you. Keep an eye out for you when they are shopping. I see the same people at yard sales every week. We talk and tell each other what we are looking for. We have exchanged numbers in our phones. I have purchased hundreds of canning jars and equipment by text messages from other sellers. Not to mention the camping gear, pack supplies, med supplies, the list goes on and on. One woman I see often is all over the place. Almost everyday. The only thing she does is cruise around looking for sales. I think she may be a hoarder, but she has helped me find some amazing deals! She never asks silly questions either. Bless her heart!
Check store clearance items. managers specials. Using coupons on clearance items make them almost free or deeply discounted. I make a clearance circuit in a each store. Every store in my area has specific spots for clearance items. Especially if a store is remodeling. They will have crazy amounts of cheap stuff. Add a coupon and BAM! Happy Dance.
Talk to the store managers, they will let you know the best times to pick up on good sales. Tell them what you are doing. People generally want to help you to help people. The manager of the Salvation Army and one of the local supermarkets have been very generous with items for these packs.
The basic Hygiene Kit is something I put in all of the packs. Everything is hotel/travel size. Thrift stores often sell some these items 5 or 6 for a dollar. I have had a lot of these items donated.
- Cotton balls
- Small emery board~ I found a case of these at a thrift store for 50 cents. Must be five hundred in the box.
- Toothbrush/tooth paste
- OTC pain relievers
- Cough drops
- Band aids
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hand sanitizer
- Wet ones
- A small container of laundry soap.
- Dryer sheets~ Help with bugs.
- One quart size ziplock bag to put it in.
- A towel and wash cloth. I often these in perfect condition used.
This is enough to give someone a few showers or even “creek baths”. Being clean can make someone feel human again. We are not setting up a household.
Sometimes I find and add…
- Nail clippers
- Disposable razors
- Bug spray
Food / Water Packs ~ These vary depending on what I have
- Water bottles
- Chlorine bleach in a small bottle~ Water purification. This has to be changed out yearly.
- Cup~ Metal camping cups when I can find them.
- Fork, butter knife, spoon. Super cheap at a thrift store.
- Homemade dehydrated soup mixes. Dehydrated foods with gravy mix or bouillon. Or….
- Cans of soup, beans, veggies, whatever I can find.
- Granola bars
Small packs of condiments ~ Salt, pepper, ketchup, sugar, sweetener, soy sauce. Friends save these for me, we rarely eat out.
- Dried or canned fruit
- Hard candy
- Tea bags
- Hotel coffee
- Drink mixes
- Instant cocoa
If I can find mess kits I include them. Or a small lightweight pan to heat water. Grocery store bags to put everything in.
Baby Packs Hygiene kit ~ Babies can’t use some of the items in the kit, but the parents can.
12 Cloth and or disposable diapers. 12 diapers doesn’t seem like much but cloth can be cleaned and reused. Once a disposable is used, it is gone. Cloth diapers are hard to find, but can be cut and sown from flannel. It only takes a few minutes to whip up some diapers if you are already sewing. Three pieces of flannel, some thin plastic sheeting in the middle, sew it around the edges. Plastic pants to cover are a rarity now. You can add velcro tabs instead of using pins. Store bought Nappies are too costly. I used cloth diapers for all of my children. People will use what they have and be grateful for them. When I reach my goal of 25 completed baby packs I will start adding more diapers.
- Small pack of wipes or a small baggie with a wash cloth
- 2 Diaper pins
- Ointment in a baby food jar. Or a small tube. Find someone that is using baby food and get their jars.
- Infant Tylenol~ If I can find it cheap
- 2 receiving blankets
- 2 warm blankets
- 2 Pajamas or Onezies
- Grocery Store bags for dirty diapers.
You could add half of a twin sheet to use as a snuggie. Make a triangle and snug (tie) baby to your chest. Sometimes I find formula in the clearance bins. New moms should be nursing. Period. I save formula for orphaned babies.
Toddler or Kids Packs ~ It is surprisingly inexpensive to make these baby kits. A few dollars. Except for the Tylenol and formula.
- Hygiene kit
- Small stuffed animal
- Dollar store items like a story or coloring book, crayons, bubbles.
- Small flashlight/AA battery~ Can be a big comfort
- Large t-shirt
- Bootie socks
- Small blanket.
- Children’s vitamins
- Food Pack
- Hygiene kit
- Feminine Hygiene products
- Hair ties/clips
- Book / Bible
- X Large t-shirt
- Small Flashlight/AA battery
Small tool kit ~ Tape, zip ties, wire, paracord, multi-tool. A zillion things could be added.
Pregnant Packs ~ The same as Female pack, add Prenatal vitamins~ I found eight bottles of these in a clearance bin for $2.00/ $2.00 coupon each. Free! Exp. 2/2014. Baby kit.
Small birthing kit ~ Chuks pads, Sterile gloves, sterile plastic clamps, new sterile razor blade, for clean cord cutting. Bulb syringe. Small bottle of rubbing alcohol. These items I buy online. You can purchase an OB kit on Amazon for $8.00. I put these together from several sources for $3.00. Look around.
Babies born in austere conditions can easily die from tetanus or infection if the umbilical cord is not treated properly. Mothers are at risk of infection also…
- Hygiene kit
- X large t-shirt
- Book / Bible
- Tool kit
- Small Flashlight/AA battery
- Matches/toilet paper tubes stuffed with dryer lint
- Food pack
We buy as many backpacks as we can for these kits. The most I will spend on a back pack is $1.00. Friends save their kids old school backpacks for us. The yearly ski swap will donate left over back packs. Otherwise the packs go into shopping bags. Plastic, canvas, anything that is free or inexpensive and sturdy.
I store everything in large Rubbermaid containers or boxes out-of-the-way. I have one container that I dump items in until I have enough to make bags. Organized and clean.
You might wonder why I included t-shirts and socks but no other clothing. Pants size vary so much that I could not even begin to delve into that. However, t-shirts are almost a one size fits all if they are big. I find nice almost new clean t-shirts at thrift stores. A pair of new socks are one size and can change your life! New socks are almost better than chocolate. Almost.
So far, I have 40 nice used clean blankets stored in space bags. 20+ coats and heavy hoodies in varying sizes.
I have not included anything that can be used as a weapon, or anything that can used against us. I don’t think anyone will attempt to throw flaming sanitizer soaked cotton balls at us. The razor blade in the preg pack could hurt someone, but if anyone in my group is stupid enough to let themselves get cut with a razor blade or stabbed with a fork from the food kit……need I say more? We haven’t paid thousands of dollars in training for one of my kids to get stabbed with a fork.
I have stored some inexpensive good hunting knives with fire starters, but will only hand them out if the correct opportunity presents itself. Case by case basis. These packs will not be handed out anywhere near our property, so folks will not know where to find more. Most likely handed out at a road block. We may end up donating all of them to a church, camp, or anywhere they would be helpful. They could be used as barter items. We may end up using them ourselves.
Other items that would be useful to homeless folks are tarps, plastic sheeting, rain ponchos, garbage bags, shoes, duct tape, the list is endless. Whatever you are willing to share and store.
I have 92 of these packs made up right now. We are usually able to build 5-6 a month. We date them to rotate out anything over 12 months by donating or repacking with fresh products.
We have donated these packs to the homeless shelter, women’s/children’s shelter, to families that have lost their home to fire and tornado victims.
They can be also be used as an extra Bug Out Bag. Or a project for Scout Troops and Church Youth Groups.
Helping others doesn’t have to cost a lot or take away from your own supplies. I incorporate this activity into my regular preps. Do what you can, when you can. Have fun with it.
We are happily open to suggestions for other ideas and items to include – please share your thoughts, suggestions and comment below. Happy Prepping!
This contest will end on April 22 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive – A $500 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $500 off anything on their site. And a Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads,
- Second Place winner will receive – Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival and a $150 gift certificate off of Hornady Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Third Place winner will receive – a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.
M.D. Adds : folks please share this post on Facebook – it shows that we care about others and are not a bunch of crazy people waiting / hoping to get to shoot everyone that comes to us looking for help. Thank you.