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Bag Ladies of Lakewood Presbyterian Church

Maybe you've heard the words "Bag Ladies" mentioned, but don't really know who the Bag Ladies are. They are a group of volunteers who came together over nine years ago. Pat Bloebaum started the group that sews and assembles the bags for those taking refuge at Hubbard House, a shelter for domestic abuse victims. Pat was inspired to do so after her daughter and two grandsons spent a night there in 2003. It was a time when the shelter was so full that there were no clean sheets, towels or washcloths left. The boys, then 5 and 8, used their T-shirts to dry off after taking showers. The 5-year-old was so scared that he kept a toy lantern that made a cricket sound on all night. The thought of what her family had been through stayed with Pat. She kept thinking about all the women and children who go to the shelter and what would make life easier for them when they stay there, the answer was a bag full of toiletries, toys and other comfort items. So she made up a sample “Welcome Bag” out of colorful fabric. She took it to her minister at Lakewood Presbyterian Church and asked if she could start a volunteer group to make them. He agreed, and a dozen women showed up at the first work session in January 2008 and they have been going strong ever since.

The ladies (and some Bag dudes) meet the second Saturday of each month, to fill colorful handmade drawstring bags with a towel, washcloth, packet of toiletries, mini-flashlight on a rope, coloring book, crayons, a bag of snacks, a brand-new storybook, a Beanie Baby, and a soft, handmade cuddle pillow. The bags are delivered to Hubbard House, where each child who is brought there for safety receives his or her own personal 'Welcome Bag'. As of June2017 the ladies will have delivered over 4600 of these bags.

Since this group started, additional Bag Lady groups have formed and are serving in the same way! Lakewood and Mandarin Methodist churches provide 'Welcome Bags' to the women at Hubbard House. The Resurrection Episcopal Church makes 'Welcome Bags' for teenagers at Hubbard House. Ladies from the historic Woodlawn Presbyterian Church make donations to the City Rescue Mission, and four other groups provide 'Welcome Bags' for shelters in Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties!

The wish is that there would never be a need for these shelters but the truth is there is. So, we are thankful to all these wonderful ladies and the many gifts of time and talent that they have given over the years. This is a true labor of love for these ladies and the Alliance is happy to give them our support again this year. For more information, contact Donna Bernard at 464-0910.