Jennifer Garner shows how to make little bags with supplies & money for unhoused people

Jennifer Garner is promoting The Adam Project, out now on Netflix, in which she plays a single mom to a son whose future self comes back to change the timeline and reunite with his departed dad. Ryan Reynolds is the older version of the son and Mark Ruffalo plays the dad, making this the first film since 2004’s 13 Going on 30 that Garner and Ruffalo have starred in together. Garner and Ruffalo have a cute video on Instagram and they’re joined by their onscreen son, Walker Scobell, 13.

A couple of weeks ago Garner posted a video to her Instagram stories where she gave $200 to the cashier at Starbucks. Garner told her that the first bill was a tip for everyone working there and the second was to pay for everyone in line behind her. I wrote about it and said that it seemed a little cheesy, but that you could tell she was sincere about it and was trying to inspire other people. It was a nice thing to do.

Garner recently posted this little video where she’s giving out Ziplock bags with supplies like handwipes, tissues, Chapstick, socks and money to unhoused people. It’s not too much stuff to store and it’s useful. The video starts with her assembling the bags and includes a clip of her handing them out. It ends with a list of items to include. Here’s that video and some screenshots are below.

This is really nice! Yes it’s PR for her, but who cares? She’s also worked for Save The Children for over a decade and she campaigned for Hillary so she gets massive points in my book. This is a nice way to give back and she’s going to influence other people to do this. I know there are jerks who say not to give money to unhoused people, but I sometimes do give money. I don’t care what they spend it on, it’s not my business. Also it makes me happy to give money so I’m getting something out of it too. I also donate to local food banks and to humanitarian organizations. I typically just donate online, but giving out little packages like this would make me feel great too. Have you ever fulfilled teachers’ Amazon wish lists? I love buying little presents for people and that’s what it feels like!

Here are some organizations to support. These all have four star ratings on Charity Navigator.
Doctors Without Borders
Feeding America
National Alliance to End Homelessness
Save The Children
World Central Kitchen

Photos credit: Instar and via Instagram

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90 Responses to “Jennifer Garner shows how to make little bags with supplies & money for unhoused people”

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  1. Seriously?! says:

    They’re called “ blessing bags” where I live and I’ve been giving them to unhoused people for 10 years- WITHOUT anyone videoing me doing it. She sure works hard to promote her nice-girl image.

    • Orangeowl says:

      Eh, I see it as more of her using a huge platform that most of us don’t have to highlight doing something useful for others.

      Seems a lot more constructive than, say, Ted Cruz using his platform to praise truck drivers clogging up highways to oppose mandates that have been lifted.

    • Amanda says:

      OR she uses her fame to encourage people who have never done this sort of thing to think beyond themselves and do so. What a much better use of fame, don’t you think?

      • Kilfanora says:

        100% agree 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

      • Cel2495 says:

        Agree… I was not even aware of this and she has inspired me to do it. I will go and buy a bag of wholesale socks, Kleenex, sanitizing wipes, toothbrush to do the Same thing. I been wanting to do more to help and this is such a great idea!

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        It’s self promotion first.
        Would she continue doing any of it without others knowing?
        Yes a good deed and yes it was self serving.

    • Celebitchy says:

      She has 12 million followers and she’s using her status as a celebrity to encourage people to do something nice. If she only wrote about it without including a video it wouldn’t get as much coverage. It’s a how-to video and I don’t think we should bash her for this but I knew someone would.

      • DijaDee says:

        And it works because I will be doing this with my little ones. They split up they chore money in different jars. One is for donations and this would be a great way for them to hand it out.

      • Christine says:

        Yep, it worked on me as well. I will be making up kits with my son over spring break, because he has two weeks off this year, for some reason, and I do not have two weeks worth of things to do. We live in LA, and pass countless homeless encampments on a daily basis.

        But I knew someone would be awful about it as well.

      • Renee' says:

        She also inspired me to do it…so I will. I’m a Garner supporter and love she did this to inspire others.

    • Jess says:

      And yet here you are, telling us all that you’ve done this just to a much smaller audience.

      Why do we always have to shit on anything nice.

    • Kara says:

      You don’t have 12 million followers and anywhere near the influence she does, so why be rude about her trying to use her influence for good? I hate this argument. Like when people complain about celebrities publishing donations. They did a good thing, which may influence others to also do a good thing. Stop being so salty.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      Thank you, “seriously?”!

      • Carolnr says:

        If JL was doing this, you would be all for it…( you have professed her love openly for her on the site)
        It doesn’t matter WHO does it, it is a great way to teach your children to give back!

    • mellie says:

      I have a friend and she started posting on Facebook that she was collecting items for these ‘blessing bags’. I had no idea what these were and I was glad that she posted about them so I could donate. It’s easy to go out and purchase $20-30 worth of supplies for these (she doesn’t put cash in hers, some donated gift cards to add in, but that’s not standard).
      Many of us would have never known about these if not for social media. She wasn’t tooting her own horn and I don’t think JG is either. You’ve got to get the word out somehow….WTH was she supposed to do, pick up the phone? Judge much?

      • Renee' says:

        Agreed 100%!! It was a loving & generous gesture. I wish the pessimism wasn’t so strong in some people.

    • Brittney says:

      For a long time, I kept 100% of my community work to myself. It was because I actually cared TOO much about my own image (being seen as a narcissist who does it for the wrong reasons).

      When I started talking about it and posting about it, guess what? Neighbors started giving me clothes and food and money to pass along. Friends reached out with stories of things they did because they were inspired by me.

      Now imagine I had 12 million followers and worldwide media coverage.

      She has good motives for doing this and for sharing this, but even if she doesn’t, does it matter? The impact is the same. So many upper-middle class white women don’t follow mutual aid orgs but DO follow her, and may have just seen this tip for the first time in their lives.

      • Maggie says:

        Agree 100%.

      • lucy2 says:

        This is a good point, and I’ve seen it too. A friend of mine is involved in many community projects, and she always gets support from friends when she posts about it. If I find a good organization to support, I try to share it too. Community networking works. It’s one of the few good things about social media, and for people with huge platforms, they can make a difference.
        I like seeing tips or links to practical things that many can do also. That to me is more helpful than someone issuing a statement or post saying “it’s terrible, thoughts and prayers” or even saying they’ve donated. Post links, share info, get people involved.

    • Desdemona says:

      I had never seen these types of bags and it’s actually something nice to do. I’m probably going to show my students how to do this and maybe do something for the homeless people here in the area. It’s always nice to share this sort of ideas, even if it is for PR.

      By the way, in my country when you submit your IRS, there’s a place in the form where you can choose a charity and 0,5% of your IRS or VAT gets automatically donated to that charity… Doesn’t sound like much but if all citizens do it, it ends up being a nice sum…

    • @seriously

      I don’t see her video that way at all! I didn’t know about blessing bags and now I will do them! I could not agree with you more about certain celebs and certain actions. (looking at you David Geffen who has to name every goddamn building after himself). But this seems a great way to teach people how to give back a bit. And I can’t criticize that in the world we live in now. We all need to give each other (And OURSELVES!) some grace and kindness.

    • Sixx Kitty says:

      I agree, the bags are useful and can be concealed easily in pockets. While I believe her intentions are pure, you can’t please all the people all the time. Like Geffen 🙂

    • Mama says:

      It isn’t a contest. She could be inspiring people to do it. Celebrities inspire people… they just do. Either for the good or the bad.

  2. Stef says:

    Her heart is in the right place, performativity aside. I adore her!

    • SarahCS says:

      I’m with you on this, she’s doing good and with her platform she may inspire others to do the same. That works for me. She’s consistent enough in her good deeds for others that it seems to come from a genuine place of wanting to help people.

      • Orangeowl says:

        I agree, said something similar above. It’s refreshing to see kindness and humility instead of constant, performative outrage about “freedom” or whatever.

  3. Amanda says:

    Love making these bags. I have donation drives for supplies at my Senior living community. The residents can shop the dollar store and help me assemble the kits.

    Other add in ideas…. Feminine hygiene products, shelters rarely have enough. A couple of laundry detergent pods in a smaller baggie are nice if you’re including quarters to go with. And we all steal the hotel toiletries, but who really uses them? If they are unopened, they are perfect size for these kits.

    Throw a party with some friends, have everyone bring some item in bulk and assemble together. The more people, the more fun, and ultimately, the more bags to give.

    • Amy T says:

      Anita Diamont’s “Period:End of Sentence” is an excellent book about issues around menstruation and equity. A group I’m part of works regularly with one of our local shelters to provide supplies. It’s an important and overlooked need.

    • Tiffany:) says:

      One of my friends was creating bags last November, and she included little warming packets (like Hot Hands hand warmers) to help provide at least some temporary warmth during the cold months.

    • Kate says:

      I love the hotel “samples” – one of the women at my work has collection bins in the break areas for them (my group travels a lot). If I ask housekeeping directly, they will usually give me a bag full of soaps/shampoos/lotions plus leave me double or triple of items during the rest of my stay (I also shamelessly ask for extra toothpaste/floss at the dentist lol).

  4. LBB says:

    That is how you use your celebrity to amplify acts of kindness. I will take it!

  5. Tempest says:

    Good work. I agree with those who say she’s using her platform to inspire others. I think she probably makes a lot of donations of money and time that never get publicity.

  6. Nora says:

    It doesn’t even need to be that much work! Throw a $20 in your dentist goodie bag, leave it in the car and offer it to the next unhoused person you see. Don’t video tape it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Sometimes I think it’s hard to see how blessed we all are.

  7. Kari says:

    Personally I think giving directly to unhoused folks, be it money or much needed supplies, is really important. Not to say that large organizations don’t do work because they do but having been in the nonprofit world for over 12 years I can tell you that a lot of the larger/ highly recognized organizations often times fail to meet essential time-sensitive needs for the communities they are meant to serve.

    I won’t name the orgs here because I don’t want to get sued but I’ve had the experience of some of these large organizations blocking my mutual aid group from receiving donations from our local green market because they don’t want to lose out on quotas. I’ve also witnessed another hugely popular food insecurity org give contracts to provide food to communities to restaurants that are backed by developers instead of local mom and pop restaurants. Essentially they are redirecting funds to the same people working to push out the same community they are claiming to help.

    I say this not to discourage folks from donating to large orgs but rather to consider mixing it up when they donate. If you are comfortable with it and able to, try donating to local groups or folks directly, small community based organizations/mutual aid groups/ community fridges do some of the best work, they know their community better and can get direct support to community sooner.

    • lemontwist says:

      That info about bigger charitable orgs is disappointing to hear but I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise. 🙁 Thank you for pointing out that smaller local groups can often serve communities better specifically because they are more connected and focused.

  8. I grew up in Charleston, Wv and I did community theater with her in the early nineties. She is incredibly nice and genuine. Her mom and my mom both worked at the same College of Graduate Studies and my church and her home church have been making these bags for years. My Dad takes it a step further and keeps drawstring back packs from the dollar tree in his car with other non perishable food items, soap, shampoo and bottles of water and a wash cloth. We also make separate bags for females with both tampons, pads and feminine hygiene wipes in case they can’t find a place to shower. Jennifer makes more of the smaller bags and always includes forty dollars. She makes a massive quantity and has been doing this for years. The reason she makes such a massive quantity of the smaller bags is because she wants to help as many people as possible and the homeless population of LA county is overwhelming.

  9. FilmTurtle says:

    A friend does something similar here in L.A., but without the hard granola bars because many unhoused folk have teeth concerns. She uses soft energy bars instead and includes bags with feminine hygiene products. She also asks everyone to save the plastic-wrapped silverware from delivery orders, which typically has a knife, fork and spoon, with a napkin and sometimes salt and pepper packets, and gives those out, too (only the ones that are wrapped in plastic) in the packages.

  10. Southern Fried says:

    Thanks for highlighting this. I suspect Jennifer has been giving back for most of her life.

  11. Polo says:

    I love this and this really does inspire people to act. I remember getting so much inspiration from Sussex royal whenever they posted about things like this or donation suggestions.
    I really hope she goes something with Harry and Meghan. I know they’ve supported Jens organization but would love an in person event with all 3 of them

  12. Megan says:

    The dog looks like he needs a nap.

  13. DiegoInSF says:

    Did she get consent of the homeless for taking their picture? This is called as poverty pr0n, they’re just a backdrop for her and so curious, that she has a movie to promote right now!

    • Jules says:

      Didn’t Lindsay Lohan try to do this? I vaguely remember her trying to film herself helping the homeless, only she ended up getting in an argument with them.

      • lemontwist says:

        What?? I’d watch/rewatch that video because making any kind of comparison between that and this is just bonkers.
        LL harassed a family who was trying to stay safe on the street for the night. She wouldn’t go away when they asked, so they got up to try to get away from her and when they did that she tried to grab their kid. It’s AWFUL to watch.

    • Kkat says:

      So what if she is promoting something, she is still doing good with her privilege. And she does this all the time so it’s not like she only is doing it now.

      But yeah shit on something good, instead of you know, doing something good yourself instead of knocking others

      • DiegoInSF says:

        Forgive me for being a POC not liking this white woman using POC as her backdrop for fame

      • Jules says:

        Ah, the savior complex, it’s a thing!

      • Lena says:

        The homeless aren’t all or even majority POC. I think some people just bend over backward to find fault here.

      • DiegoInSF says:

        There’s a Black man in her video and unfortunately POC are over represented when it comes to homelessness, I know, I live in California.

  14. Giddy says:

    The youth group at my church makes snack bags with juice boxes, granola bars, etc. They also make bags specifically for persons with dogs. They have dried food plus a couple of dog bones in each one.

  15. elizabeth says:

    These are great to give out. A friend of mine who works in homeless services told me once that socks are the best thing to have on hand to give out. So now I have them in my car all the time.

    A few things to keep in mind.
    – If you include food in the bags, be sure it’s soft. A lot of people who are unhoused often have really bad teeth. I used to try and give out those Rx bars. No one ever wanted them, and a friend told me they were likely too hard and sticky.
    – Painkillers like aspirin or Advil are also appreciated.

  16. Roseberry says:

    Our church here in the UK has been doing this for years. we do a shoebox drive, any size you like and write man or woman on the top, so you can get the right size socks, feminine products etc.
    One Christmas I was handing them out at an emergency shelter and someone had written Young Woman on the box, I spotted a young woman and gave it to her. She burst into tears when she opened it and saw all the period pads, nail polish , jazzy socks etc. She said it was the most thoughtful thing that anyone had done for her in a long while.

  17. raindrop says:

    Back in college I knew someone who claimed to have briefly dated her when they were in college together, in Texas. At the time I thought he was lying (or maybe misremembering another brunette Jennifer from Texas) but he described her as unusually kind and compassionate. So… who knows.

    • Susan says:

      She spent her school age years in Chas WV and went to Denison University in Ohio then moved to NY if that helps clarify…

  18. Luna17 says:

    Love this! She genuinely seems to love giving back and the unhoused need all the support they can get!

  19. Songs (Or it Didn't Happen) says:

    When my Mom lived in DC, she carried fruit to give out to the homeless she met on her way to work

  20. JRenee says:

    I call them blessing bags too. I use gallon size zip lock bags. I encourage my friends to give me any toiletries they have from hotel visits. I add toothpaste and tooth brushes, hats, gloves, mask & hand sanitation, lysol-to- go spray( now since pandemic), socks , tea bags( you can get free hot water from places) tuna pouches, mints and anything else that is appropriate. I keep a few bags in the car with me and I pass bags out to people I know run into the homeless and will share. If I get a lot of items, I donate to a shelter.
    I don’t photograph myself or the people I encounter though.
    She has a platform to encourage kindness and I’m cool with her doing that.

  21. Nikki says:

    My son worked with her closely on overseas trips for Save The Children, and said she was extremely nice to everyone, hard working, and a very genuine person. He said she always went above and beyond, even when no cameras or reporters were around!

  22. Ana says:

    Jennifer has been doing this for awhile now but using her big platform in FB and IG is a great advantage for her to inspire others to do good deeds. She is turning 50 next month and I think this is one of her missions before she turns 50. She is promoting kindness and offering comfort to all in need.

  23. Susan says:

    I’ll admit, during the Jen/Affleck years, I wasn’t her biggest fan. But post affleck and especially during the pandemic years, I am a BIG FAN.

  24. Imara219 says:

    I love, love, love this idea. I’m inspired to make some with my son and keep them in the car. I’ve been thinking about how I could do more for the homeless and get my son involved.

  25. Songs (Or it Didn't Happen) says:

    I don’t mean this negativity AT ALL, but, it must be so exhausting being that nice. I don’t know how she manages.

  26. Mle428 says:

    As sure as the sun will rise, there are the Debbie Downers here on CB squaking about how it’s not enough or that it’s for publicity, while tooting their own philanthropic horns. This is a great idea, and the suggestions re: softer foods are great. This is absolutely something I will do with my 5yo. This crisis is so big, especially here in So Cal, that you forget about the small stuff you can do (like this).

  27. Em says:

    A 12 year old boy named Jakhil Jackson started this movement of making blessing bags under Project I Am and should be getting credit for all he’s done. Not a novel concept but he really organized this movement to help the homeless population in this way.

    • DiegoInSF says:

      Curious she doesn’t get the same accusations Alyssa Milano got when she’s doing the same. Thank you for giving credit to the actual person who started this. As if my opinion of her couldn’t be lower.

  28. Adream says:

    Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all! If she has the platform and followers she could really make a difference in the conversation around these issues.

  29. Nicegirl says:

    I think this is wonderful. Good work Jen

  30. MsGomer says:

    Well done, Jennifer, bringing attention to this idea Also it might be a good idea to add printed pieces of paper with the human trafficking hotline phone number. I’ve been on the road crossing the country, and have seen many young people in distress. You may also carry this number with you on your own phone in case you come across someone in need of help.

  31. FeatherDuk says:

    someone please explain “unhoused” to me. It sounds so sanitized as if we don’t want to look directly at the problem. My family was HOMELESS when I was a young child, we weren’t “unhoused” no one took our “house” from us. This term, “unhoused” reminds me of “food insecure” as if it’s just in someone’s imagination. Disgusting and belittling

    • Cava 24 says:

      Advocates for people who are unhoused/homeless believe that the term “homeless” is derogatory because it makes people sound “less than”. There are some pro and con arguments around this online. It is a fairly recent rephrasing.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      I think people don’t want to say “homeless” because people/families may still see themselves as having a “home” as long as they are together, whether it’s in a shelter or on the sidewalk. They may not be missing love or family, just a physical structure to live in, hence “house-less.”

    • Jamie says:

      It’s for the ‘woke’ crowd that gets offended by every little thing. These people are unfortunately homeless but to them, unhorsed sounds so much better.

    • Jenn says:

      “Unhoused” is an all-encompassing term that reflects a spectrum of need. For example, in the several months that I couch-surfed and tried to save up money after escaping an abusive relationship, I was “unhoused” — I showered at work, I slept on a friend’s pull-out at night, and I did not have a permanent address — but I was not “homeless” in that strictest sense. The reality is that most people are just one financial disaster away from losing their housing (but may have other social safety nets in place, as I did).

  32. Gracie says:

    I love that she is promoting this, with the theory that she knows her audience probably has the means to amplify the efforts. Working in philanthropy, we often highlight our individual staff “boots on the ground” efforts to inspire others to do the same. I also find it helpful to see someone with wealth and privilege focused on kindness – improves morale.

    • Agreatreckoning says:

      +1 She’s doing good and not stealing from others for her goodwill. It’s a great thing to do. I’m not seeing where she is claiming to be the originator of the idea. If doing good things gives her good PR, sobeit. She does seem very genuine and active in the process.

  33. windyriver says:

    It’s interesting to hear what other people are already doing, and that people are inspired to do more themselves by these stories.

    My sister-in-law‘s church (NJ) has been doing something like this in New York City for years. Church members prepare individual bags, but have a more targeted distribution system. Once a month volunteers drive into New York and distribute items at one or more previously identified locations. They get donations from various sources. For example, prior to closing for renovation in 2017, the Waldorf would periodically contribute hotel toiletries, which were then packaged individually with other necessities. Don’t believe they call them blessing bags specifically, but maybe that term is reserved for bags individually handed out to people in the way JG and others are doing.

  34. Hello+Dannie says:

    You can be self-serving AND do a good deed simultaneously. They’re not mutually exclusive.

  35. Jordana says:

    My daughter’s school did this, to fulfill a request from a local homeless outreach and shelter. The shelter gave the students a list of things that were wanted/most useful to the unhoused:
    -gift cards to local coffee shops and fast food (as an alternative to cash)
    – pads and tampons
    – chapstick
    – small combs/hairbrush
    – snacks
    – nail clippers, grooming supplies
    – writing supplies, like a small notebook and pens. Often the unhoused have no where to store information, like addresses of family, and friends/family phone numbers etc.