The idea that you can’t make a difference is seductive given the need in our community, but a 3-year-old effort called Sam’s Blessing Bag Project shows that it’s possible to make a bigger impact than you might think.
It’s a joint effort by Andrew Hartman, founder and partner at Hartmanlaw, 145 Towne Lake Parkway in Woodstock, and his 10-year-old son, Sam.
Andy, whose boutique law firm specializes in real estate closings, came across the concept of “blessing bags” for the homeless back in 2016. He decided to more publicly launch “Sam’s Blessing Bag Project” at the insistence of some other parents and friends. Part of the goal was to further teach Sam both the value of giving back and the skills necessary for organizing complex projects, Andy says.
“The concept with a ‘Blessing Bag’ is to give people experiencing temporary or long-term homelessness a small kit with beneficial items such as a refillable coffee mug, a snack, some protein, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pair of socks, a stocking cap and gloves,” Andy explains. “These gifts from a stranger also send a message to those who receive them: Someone cared enough to make this little pack of gifts for me.”
Andy says he knows the homegrown effort can’t solve the global issue of homelessness. “But this is a way to show children how to begin to think in a charitable way, and organize a project,” he said. “That is one of our primary goals. And the fruits of their labor will help someone through a difficult, short period of time.”
In the first couple years working on the project at home as a family, the Hartmans would fill 80 to 150 of the bags to distribute to the homeless. Then in 2018, they took the program to a new level. “Along with our extremely generous friends, we put together more than 600 bags along with over 100 blankets for distribution to people in need across Fulton, Cherokee, Cobb, Bartow, Pickens and Paulding counties,” Andy explains.
This past December, participants at a “Blessing Bag party” at the Woodstock law office put together about 600 bags! “We had snacks, had some prizes for the kids and made it fun,” Andy said.
Simple Needs GA was touched and honored to receive about 90 of the bags for distribution to people who live in the woods in Cobb County, said SNGA Founder Brenda Rhodes. “Give Homeless Hope, a local nonprofit that works closely with this population, is distributing the bags and blankets,” Brenda said. “Thanks so much to the Hartmans and everyone who contributed to this awesome project. It’s amazing to see how Sam’s willingness to give back is blossoming into something that deepens’ others involvement as well. Way to go!”