Spotlight on Charity – The Bag Ladies of Lakewood Presbyterian Church

Spotlight on Charity – The Bag Ladies of Lakewood Presbyterian Church

Jan 29, 2024

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 fifteen 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, 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 September 2023, the ladies will have delivered over 6600 of these bags. Although December of 2017 was a sad time for the Bag Ladies after the loss of their dear founder Pat the ladies of the church and Pat’s daughter Heidi have continued her vision making sure that the children who stay at Hubbard House receive a welcome bag of comfort. Their dedication to Pat’s vision continued throughout the pandemic with the work being done behind scenes they did not miss a beat. 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 Deercreek Women’s Alliance is happy to give them our support again this year.

How can you help? Well, there are opportunities for hands on help assembling the bags the 2nd Saturday of each month except July and December. There is also a wonderful group of Deercreek ladies headed up by Elizabeth Curtin who are now also helping to make the colorful bags that all the comfort items go in. Some ladies cut fabric to size, some sew bags together, some thread the drawstrings and some do it all. Over the last couple of years, this awesome group of ladies have made far more bags than the 540 that are delivered each year.

If you are interested in helping the DWA and the Bag Ladies continue their wonderful labor of love, please be sure to contact Donna Bernard the DWA liaison at 904-464-0910 or dmbernard@yahoo.com.

Founded in 1885, the Jacksonville Humane Society is Jacksonville’s second oldest non-profit and is funded by philanthropic contributions. In April 2007, the shelter was destroyed and 86 animals succumbed to a devastating fire. They had their Grand Opening of the new “JHS Adoption, Education and Community Resource Center” in November 2017 and it is spectacular.

The Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS) is a 501c3 non-profit, no-kill animal shelter and does not euthanize healthy or treatable companion animals in their care. They work in partnership with our city’s municipal animal control division, Animal Care and Protective Services, to maintain a save rate of 90% or higher for our entire community, making Jacksonville a no-kill city. JHS is also actively involved in the movement to make Florida a no-kill state. To learn more about the definition of no-kill and how a save rate is calculated for shelters and communities nationwide, please visit Best Friends Animal Society’s website.

If you are looking for a new best “furry” friend, JHS is located at 8464 Beach Blvd. and hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 12-7; Saturday and Sunday 10-5. All animals adopted at JHS leave spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and heartworm tested, which is all covered by the adoption fee. Adoption fees vary, but many dogs’ adoption fees are sponsored. Further information can be found at www.jaxhumane.org.

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