A New York congregation uses church tote bags to share their blessings with those in need.
St. Luke’s Blue Bag Ministry was founded in 2014 after a leftover box of blue, shopping totes were discovered at the church in Jamestown. The remnants from a previous church project became the seeds to a new project that would help outreach organizations within the community.
The Rev. Luke Fodor, the rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, previously served at another parish that used blue bags to collect items for a food pantry. It seemed appropriate for St. Luke’s to use the newly found blue bags for a similar purpose.
And so the Blue Bag Ministry at St. Luke’s was formed. It currently serves 12 community programs annually, reaching hundreds of people with various needs.
How Blue Bag Ministry works
Members of the congregation, which numbers about 450, each month select a nonprofit organization to aid. The items collected are chosen by the volunteers based on the organization’s needs.
“We collect personal care items, clothes, food … whatever is needed by the specific organization,” explained Parish Administrator Kim Mann.
On the second Sunday of the month, the blue bags and a shopping list of items needed are distributed by the children of the church to interested parishioners.
On the third Sunday of the month, the children present the bags at the altar to be blessed during the offertory. A special song written by a parishioner is sung at this time.
At the conclusion of the service, the volunteers deliver the bagged donations. Sometimes the group walks the donations to the recipient if located nearby.
Past recipients of St. Luke’s Blue Bag Ministry include the YMCA, Salvation Army, food pantries, the United Way, the Humane Society and several other outreach organizations in the Jamestown area.
Church tote bags are low-cost ministry tools
The grocery tote bags used for the Blue Bag Ministry cost less than $1.60 each for 100 and are customized with the church’s image. They have a bottom insert for added strength and easy packing. The 20-inch handles make them easy for people of all ages to carry.
“They are very cost-effective for us, very nice and sturdy,” Mann said. “We are very happy with the quality of the bags.”
St. Luke’s church also uses custom-printed, economy tote bags for its children’s ministry. Mann said the purple and red bags — known as “rainbow bags” — are filled with crayons, coloring books, reading books and other items that help little ones sit still during church activities.
Church tote bags can also be used to welcome new members with gifts and information, and for Sunday school activities, retreats, picnics and anniversary celebrations. Totally Promotional has many different sizes, materials and styles of personalized bags to fit every need.