Lisa Lloyd usually sees them at exit 141 off I-75, as she is heading toward home in Oneida: People in need, possibly homeless. Often, they're holding a sign that begs, in some way, "Please help me."
Like many Christians, Lloyd often found herself confused about how to respond. She admits she is concerned for her safety, and she's not sure that giving money is the best solution.
"So I would just keep on driving by, praying that God would bless that person, but feeling terrible because I didn't help them," Lloyd said.
This summer, Loyd came up with an idea and pitched it to the children's elementary group at First Oneida United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge District. The children were asked to help assemble "Love 'n Care Bags," which they store in their parents' cars until they encounter a person in need.
Love 'n Care bags are low-cost waist pouches or small backpacks. They include miniature-size personal hygiene products such as shampoo, lotion, soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Lloyd and the children also include small packs of bandages, laundry detergent, paper and pen, a pocket New Testament, a church brochure, and a personal note card expressing God's love.
After Lloyd conceived of the idea, she later learned that other homeless ministries are already doing the same. Then Lloyd's husband read an Upper Room devotional that affirmed the idea. (The July 30 message, "Bags of Grace," also suggested handing out socks to the homeless.)
So far, Lloyd and her group of seven children have distributed three bags, but they're carrying them in their cars for future opportunities. They're waiting to assemble additional bags whenever the first batch is depleted, and they celebrate with each other whenever a new bag has been placed.
"When we put together our first care bags, we were learning about caring for others in need," Lloyd says.
The children learned the following scripture verse:
If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person or else we cannot say we love God. Children, you show your love for others by truly helping them, and not merely talking about it. -- 1 John 3:17-18