BACKPACKS FOR THE HOMELESS
In Missouri, recently released prisoners often times find themselves homeless The Buddha Bag program came about, out of a compassionate response for the homeless ex-offenders as well as the already homeless population in St. Louis. The Inside Dharma volunteers come together and fill back packs to give away. The backpacks contain food and drink, first aid kits, toiletry products, wash cloth and towel, as well as, a summer hat in the summer time and gloves, a stocking cap and a blanket in the winter time. We are starting in 2016 to add condoms and feminine hygiene products to the bags to better serve the growing homeless population of families and women. We give out about 60 Buddha bags a year with each Buddha bag containing (including the backpack) about $45 worth of items. Volunteers take the back packs and hand them out when they see a need. Some of the bags are handed out to ex-offenders that come to Shinzo Meditation Center, the meditative branch of Inside Dharma. Many of the homeless have expressed their thanks for the bags and we have witnessed them sharing their items with each other. As we grow, we hope to do more for the homeless ex-offenders and homeless in St. Louis.