"Get a job loser!"
For years the kids and I have been making 'God Bless You bags' to give out to people on the streets. We first made them with Young Life girls when we went to Calvary Chapel in Los Alamos with Cam and Britt's youth group. Since then I have tried to keep a stash of them behind the seat of my car to hand out the window to people. They are not just for homeless people. Anyone selling newspapers on the street or road crew guys, really anyone can be encouraged by a small act of kindness.
A God Bless You bag is a small brown paper bag that has food, a drink and an encouraging word in it. Typically, we put fruit snacks, peanut butter cheese crackers, a Capri Sun and let the kids write something positive on a small note. We then decorate the bag and keep them at hand in the backseat. The reason we call them 'God Bless You bags' and not 'homeless bags' is because whenever we offer one the recipient says, "God Bless You."
A couple years ago I decided to make the bags in my class at the middle school. It seemed like a great way to get the kids to think outside themselves. We made so many bags that I gave Natalie some to pass out in Colorado Springs. One day she was busy running around and starving. So she grabbed a bag to eat herself and was shocked when she read the note inside. 'Get a job loser.' Not exactly the encouraging message we were going for. She told me I better check the rest of the bags before I gave out any more of them. I was upset because we both had passed out several of the bags. How heartbreaking that someone may have been put down rather than being lifted up.
When I spoke to my class about it no one confessed. But I think who ever wrote it was trying to be funny. By the end of our discussion they understood how it could affect someone to read that ugly message. It actually became a learning moment that wouldn't have been possible without the hurtful words. Lesson learned.