A Helping Hand, by J.M.

One of the big debates among people who are prepared is what to do, if anything, to help out folks that weren’t prepared when a SHTF event occurs. Our Christian values tell us to help those in need by offering a helping hand when we’re able, but the logic of the situation tells us that if we give everything away our own family and friends may suffer. While perusing various forums and discussing the issue of handouts with other prepper folks, I’ve seen attitudes that range from “They had the opportunity to prepare and chose not to, so they’re on their own” to “We’ve stored a lot of extra and plan on helping out those we can”, with the former being the most prevalent.

While a “they’re on their own” attitude may sound good right now, the question becomes how well will it stand up the first time you encounter a young couple with small children and no food or water and your family is staring at you.

Settle On An Approach

This issue has been a lively topic of discussion among our group for quite a while, and we decided that we needed to settle on an approach and be prepared to deliver on it. Like any other aspect of survival, if you wait until an actual event occurs to figure out how you’re going to respond, you’ll probably fail to handle it appropriately.

Factors Influencing Our Approach

Our approach involves a couple of factors:

  • Circumstances – If there are hundreds of people or large groups moving through the area (which is unlikely but possible), we’ll pull our horns in, adopt a defensive posture, and avoid contact as much as possible. For the circumstance where we can’t completely avoid contact, we have several hundred printed copies of a basic survival guide we can hand out (more on that later), along with several hundred inexpensive disposable lighters, gallon ziploc freezer bags, and water purification tablets.
  • Target Audience – We decided our initial focus would be on helping families with babies and small children, so we’ve created a care kit targeted at them. We also have some care kits designed for individuals, but we’ll work on stocking those as time and resources permit.
  • Attitude – We’re a lot more likely to help out someone who politely asks for help for their children than we are those who approach us and “demand” that we owe them something.
  • Resources – We’ve started stocking the family care kits and have a bunch of those, and we’ll start working on individual ones as resources permit. None of us are rich, but we’ll be stocking up on inexpensive kit components as we come across them and can afford them.

Teaching Them to Fish

The core of our efforts is a two-sided, one-page sheet we created that provides a wealth of information that people can use to help them survive in our area. It contains the following information:

  • Foraging – Pictures of the eight most common edible plants in our area, along with basic instructions on how to harvest and prepare them.
  • Other Food Sources – Catching fish and frogs using a simple spear (since there are lots of rivers and lakes in our area), eating bugs and grubs, et cetera.
  • Shelter – Instructions on how to create a basic debris shelter.
  • Water – Instructions on how to purify water using a clear plastic container and solar disinfecting (SODIS).
  • Fire – Starting a fire with a hand drill or bow drill, collecting tinder, et cetera.
  • Medical – Basic first aid, along with pictures and use instructions for common medicinal plants in our area.
  • Hygiene – Basic hygiene instructions.

These instructions assume the person reading them has nothing but the clothes on their back, and they are written at a very basic level. We’ve printed off several hundred copies of this sheet and have them stored in waterproof boxes.

Care Kits

As I mentioned previously, we have created several different types of “care kits”. These are made from components that we’ve sourced at our local dollar stores, yard sales, closeouts, eBay, Aliexpress, and other places. Most of these kits can be assembled for just a few dollars each, depending on what you chose to include, your shopping skills, and level of hoarding.

Collective Family Kit

The first is a collective family kit. We plan on handing out one of these per family with small children:

  • One quart paint can with lid – This is for holding things as well as for cooking and boiling water. One of our members picked up several cases of these at a closeout for a few pennies each. We poked two holes near the top and made a simple handle out of old clothes hanger wire so it can be hung over a fire. Be aware that some cans have linings that may burn or melt off when heated, so make sure you’re using an appropriate can.
  • Survival instruction sheet (discussed above).
  • Cigarette lighter – We bought a bunch of 50-packs of these back when they still sold them at Costco. You can still find them on places like Amazon or eBay for around 25 cents apiece.
  • Card magnifier – For starting fires when the sun is out. You can find them on eBay for around 15 cents apiece.
  • 10 x cotton discs soaked in wax (fire tinder).
  • Fishing kit – This includes five hooks, five lead weights, and 20’ of fishing line wrapped around a small piece of foam.
  • 10 water purification tablets – One tablet treats two quarts of water.
  • 50’ of nylon string.
  • Disposable utility knife – Our local dollar store had them for 25 cents apiece. You can also find inexpensive knives on sale at places like Walmart, eBay, or your local dollar store.
  • Wire saw – You can find them online for around 50 cents apiece.
  • Duct tape – 20’ or so in a small flat pack (wrapped around a used plastic gift card). Some metal wire.
  • Medical kit – Some bandages, Ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, and gauze pads.
  • 55 gallon drum liner.
  • Plastic cup with a mark at the 1 cup level.
  • 1 gallon ziploc bag for water and a plastic grocery bag to carry it in. Depending on circumstances we may pre-fill the bag for them, since we have plenty of access to clean water.

On the outside we attached one of those metal survival cards that can be used to pry open the paint can or open any canned goods they come across (we found a bunch at a local store for 50 cents apiece). We have around 25 of these common family kits assembled so far.

Family Member Kits

The next kit is for individual family members. We’ll provide one of these for each person inside another ziploc bag. It contains:

  • Disposable plastic poncho– Check out your local discount stores for these.
  • Mylar survival blanket.
  • 2 x compressed towels.
  • Toilet paper in a ziploc baggie.
  • Small bar of soap.
  • 2 cups rice & a chicken bouillon cube in a mylar bag along with an O2 absorber inside; preparation instructions are taped on the outside.
  • 2 pieces of hardtack in a mylar bag.
  • 5 x vitamin pills in small mylar bag.
  • Another plastic grocery bag.
  • Instruction sheet.

We have about 100 of these kits made up so far, and we’ll make up more as resources (and shopping finds) allow.

Baby Kits

The final kit is for a baby. It contains:

  • Mylar survival blanket.
  • 2 x compressed towels.
  • Small bar of soap.
  • Powdered baby formula in mylar bag with O2 absorber.
  • 3 x cloth diapers with safety pins.
  • Small fleece blanket – We made these by cutting up inexpensive blankets we got on sale at the dollar store around Christmas, plus a bolt of fleece we found in the bargain bin at our local sewing store.

Toddler and Non-Family Individual Kits in the Works

We have about 30 toddler kits put together so far. We haven’t finalized the contents for a non-family individual kit, but it’ll probably be similar to the family member kit with the addition of a copy of the survival information sheet, a utility knife, a clean soup can (for heating water), a lighter, string, and some water purification tablets.

You can obviously adapt these kits any way you want. We’ve already gone through several iterations based on what we found on sale. Depending on your inclination and beliefs, one other item you may also want to consider handing out are Bibles. We have several boxes we bought during a closeout sale at a bookstore that we plan on making available to anyone that wants one. Even if the recipient isn’t very religious, many people find strength and solace in the words.


We have also standardized a protocol for handing these care kits out. To begin with, we won’t hand them out anywhere within sight of our homes. Our group is planning to set up a road block checkpoint around a bend on the small road that leads to our neighborhood, so we’ll keep them there. That’s to prevent someone from associating a specific house with our charity, which should minimize the chances of them coming back and knocking on our doors.

We also plan on documenting the names of everyone we give a care kit to, as well as take their picture (assuming our digital camera still works), and tell them that they won’t be given another kit if they return. Once we’ve given them the kits, we’ll direct them to a wilderness area with a lake that’s a few miles away; the foraging instructions on the survival information sheet specifically address resources in that area.


We know these kits won’t let everyone we give them to necessarily live happily ever after, but we figure it’s a reasonable balance between doing nothing and putting ourselves at risk by giving everything away. As our preparations grow and we prosper, we’ll regularly re-visit the kits and make improvements and additions. The critical point is that you should make a decision now on what your approach will be to helping out others when the crisis hits and make sure you and your group is prepared to implement that approach. Finally, and probably most importantly, make sure you, your family, and your group can look at yourselves in the mirror every morning once you’ve implemented it.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 75 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 75 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. Well thought out! My charity items are not already assembled but I do collect things at Thrift stores that could fit the bill. It is amazing how many essential but cheep items can be stuffed in an old aluminum pot with a sealable lid. Also a cleaned out 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid can substitute for a back pack and be watertight! Keep in mind that all of your beneficiaries will not be strangers. Some will be acquaintances that you would not want to send away empty handed.

    1. For me my same comment then as it is today is since when has a lack of preparation on your part now suddenly become an emergency on my part I’m sorry you’ll have to fend for yourself sir I barely have enough for myself.

  2. Good article am doing the same thing and picked up some great ideas for a better give-away bag. Would it be appropriate to put some easy-to-grow garden seeds along with primitive suggestions on handmade gardening tools? I have included such along with some printed articles from the blog on basic gardening tips. God bless and continue on! Arkie Jack

    1. Could the author provide a link to the one page info handout they will distribute?

      No reason to reinvent the wheel, and providing it will encourage other preppers to distribute it too.

      1. Bobcat – our group discussed this when I was writing the article and since parts of it are very location-specific (e.g. names of local bodies of water, descriptions of foraging locations, etc.) the concern is that it could impact our operational security. Since we’d be handing it out to folks that are already in our local area after a disaster that wouldn’t be a problem, but disseminating it widely right now might be. I’ll see if I can tweak it and provide a sanitized version.

    2. Jack – I’m of two minds re: handing out seeds. It’s a great and inexpensive option, but it would also require the receiver to settle down in one place for a long time. We do have a lot of seeds in our preps that we plan on handing out to locals in our area, but that assumes they can survive until harvest time. Need to think on this one some more.

    3. Jack:
      I can see your thinking, but it may be too long-term for some family who dot yet have somewhere to plant them.
      An extra portion of rice or similar would probably be more use..
      God bless!

  3. This is a good concept and believe in the helping hand process you’ve layed out. Another similar idea we participate in is to have baggies in our vehicle containing small bottles of soap, shampoo, mouthwash, wipes, tooth brush, tooth paste, coffee/tea, creamer & sugar. And. When we see the panhandlers asking for money, food and work ~ we give them away and pray with them.

    1. Excellent notion.

      I used to toss extra unopened MRE’s to guys begging along the roads when I was still in. A lot of times I only have 15-30 seconds at a red light, and you can throw them pretty good without worrying about bursting open.

      After a few days in the field living off them and tray rations, most guys would give me extras because they didn’t want to eat them. So I usually had plenty to toss out.

      Heck, during a couple lean years – WE were eating them.

      My only regret was not buying cheap bibles and strapping them to the MREs.

  4. I believe the writer expressed some very good views in the article. We also have prepared “kits” for after SHTF conditions. Ours mostly consist of cleanliness products designed for local people in our community. I think OPSEC will be a key to successfully assisting others. I would not distribute anywhere close to our location. Think of churches as distribution points for your good deeds.

  5. First off, outstanding article!

    I’ve pondered the ‘who and how much to help others’ as well. And this is of significant value to me and I believe others. Especially showing how cheaply these kits can be made.

    Second off, I wrote the USMC Survival Course write up last year. (It’s here somewhere).

    In that course I learned how to make fire with bow and drill. Even with an experienced instructor available to help, it took me THREE days to get it. And this was after eating perhaps 300 calories during that time frame. My strength was so weak that once I began to get an ember, I couldn’t continue working the bow long enough to fully catch it. I manged to get it, but it really wasn’t fun.

    Very few people got it on the first, more got it on the second, a few of us got it on the third, and one poor guy got it on the fourth day.

    I do think it should be included, cause heck it’s just paper and it is vital ‘worst case scenario’ information.

    But I would also make sure to put instructions on how to properly build a tinder bundle/small sticks/larger sticks/ etc to get a fire going without wasting lots of time trying to figure it out. (Although you did mention gathering tinder, so maybe it includes this.)

    In today’s age, few people/families go camping anymore and know how to do it. And to be blunt, VERY few women know how to start a fire properly. And sadly, only a few more of their husbands do. “Honey, get the gasoline!”

    I’d also prefer to throw two lighters in the pack instead.(Two is one, one is none – and fire is that vital.)

    Third, after using the Mylar ‘Space/Emergency’ Blankets – they do work, but now how most people think.

    I wrapped my body in one with temperatures below freezing(in my uniform) without a fire, and didn’t notice any help keeping me warm. I know in movies they should people sitting on the backs of emergency vehicles with one wrapped around them, and they don’t do squat that way.

    It wasn’t until I used it by positioning my body in front of a fire and having the blanket wrapped open behind me to reflect the heat on my body that I warmed up. That worked superbly.

    But they tear apart like tissue paper.

    Fourth – The Wire Saws – GARBAGE. I tried using one during the same course, of the.. I think 20ish students.. NO ONE’s was able to cut anything without the rings on the end coming off. This seems to be the general consensus from everyone who has tried them.

    Skip them. Unless you use it as a snare, it has no value. On that note, the folding saws are pretty flimsy also. We each had one, and 75% of them had the plastic handle split or the saw blade break off at the hinge.

    I don’t know what you can give them. Any sort of small hatchet that is worth anything is to expensive to load up in kits. ALTHOUGH, Cold Steel has some decent priced Machetes. Perhaps avoid the fancier ones like the ‘Spartans of 300’ models. And stick with the standards. Still cost around $18 bucks each though. I’ve one and it’s worked well… but they seem to develop a bit of a ‘wobbly bend’ instead of staying straight. But it’s $18, better than nothing.

    And it’s a decent weapon, people have been hacking limbs off with them for decades now.

    So keep in mind you are arming these folks who know you got lots of goodies.

    Sorry for the nit picking, this is a superb article and I’m going to start basing my hand out kits off of your list – with only those few changes I listed. 🙂

    THANKS for the article!

  6. I hate to be the pessimist but, here goes. People in this situation would tend to seek the path of least resistance. This would be to accept your charity, possibly with a smile, head down the road, hide, watch, and follow you home to where the real goodies are. Now when they come they will be emboldened by your previous charity, and be more aggressive with their starving family. It’s a tough situation all the way around, and I applaud you for your altruism. I would say less than 50% are not going to come back and demand a handout. Now, what’s plan B? I seriously am sorry to be the Eor of the group.

    1. *This*. Once you start handing out, more & more & more will come. Sick people. Angry people. People who already hated you, now incensed that you “have so much while they suffer. I hate showing my Christian deficiencies, but you will be left on the street outside your own home wondering, “what the h*ll just happened?”

    2. You are certainly not the only one thinking this.

      I don’t have a lot each month to set aside for prepping. Designating a portion of it for charity, when I don’t believe I”m prepared for the EVENT isn’t logical.

      This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to help someone if I could. This means I won’t be building “Red Cross” bags for every person who decides to swing by.

      As a couple have implied, desperate people are some of the most dangerous people you will deal with. Their kids are starving. They haven’t eaten in two days. Their ability to evaluate risk will be diminished. They now know you have ‘stuff.’ You just gave them a nibble. They want a belly full. Math ensues.

      When you have nowhere to be, and two emaciated kids who are so dehydrated they can’t cry anymore…

      Good luck with your plan (if you ever have to implement). I hope it goes better for you than I’m thinking.

  7. What a lovely idea! I would suggest that (unless you know something I don’t know…), because it may well be years before these care packages are used it might be wise to forgo putting baby formula into the baby packs until an actual event occurs. Unlike canned goods etc., the “use by” date on formula is very important even if it is in mylar with an oxygen absorber. Perhaps you could include formula in its original sealed containers in your preps and when the “use by: dates are approaching, donate the original sealed containers to a local food pantry (they will not accept repackaged formula for obvious safety reasons) and restock your prepped supply with new formula. That way the formula will not go to waste and you will have a fresh supply to portion out and put in your care packages if / when disaster strikes. Just a thought…

    1. Gray Women – thanks for the input. One of our group members brought up that same issue a few days ago, and we have been discussing how to address it.

      1. Gray Woman & J.M. – When I was a baby (yes, a couple centuries ago) there was no baby formula. Infants whose mothers couldn’t nurse were fed with evaporated milk with a little Karo syrup (to prevent constipation). I’m sure the exact proportions are still available somewhere. Far from ideal but certainly better than nothing. After all, I survived!

  8. Go into any large city and you will will find the largest group of the “homeless” surroundings places providing free meals. If you are going to give out aid, you might want to do so saying ” rumor has it the government is settling up aid stations” in a place at least two or three days away from you. Far enough away that when they get there they won’t turn around and come back. Thereby giving them reason to move on. Otherwise you Will have a problem on your hands.

    1. Seawind:
      That approach will work, but a more compassionate method might be to find a Church group a day or so from you.
      If (when) the day comes, approach them with your pre-packed aid with the proviso you keep anonymity and let them hand it out as needed.
      God bless

  9. I agree, in an emergency I would rather have a hatchet, hand pruning saw, or Machete and in that order of preference. However few people know how to use a hatchet or Machete safety. Most can do good work with a pruning saw (and it is not a good weapon). At Garage and Estate Sales hatchets can usually be bought for $10 or less. With a little touch up on the grinding wheel they become very serviceable.

    Yes OPSEC will be very important; beneficiaries could become hostile – but they might also become allies. Your gift could create envy and covetousness or gratefulness. It is rarely mentioned but “Salesmanship” or “Horse Trading “skills should be part of OPSEC and could make the difference. If you act like the King of a Marti Gras float tossing candy to the peons you might have a problem. If you confidentially give or trade something, acting as if it is precious and difficult to part with you might have less to worry about. (I know I spelled it wrong but I’m not French or from New Orleans)

  10. I gotta play devil’s advocate here. If you express interest in the security system the door-to-door guy is trying to sell you, you’ve just told him that you DON’T HAVE a security system. You’ve just compromised your OPSEC. By the same token, if you start giving out basic necessity kits to people coming to your door post-TEOTWAWKI, you’re giving away the fact that you “have.” These people will tell others, who will tell others. Sooner or later, someone will come THROUGH the door instead of TO it, wanting ALL you have.

    …’Just sayin’…

  11. I really don’t think it would be safe to give anything directly to anyone (except for well known and trusted neighbors – have another plan for them). My plan is to direct them 5 miles down the road to a small lake with primitive campground (with easy fishing, hand pump well and permanent grills), where I will stash a plastic pail of meager basic supplies and a note directing them to another pail a further 5 miles along…near our closest small village and heading them toward our small county seat. I also plan to change the location of the pails after each use…so folks won’t just hang around waiting for you to resupply them.
    Five miles because folks think that is a loooong way to walk and wouldn’t likely be tempted to return…especially if they know there are further supplies available in the other direction and nothing available here…and a small town just a bit further (with presumed safety in numbers and possible governmental aid – hey, we know there won’t be, but… .
    I would only include meager basic supplies, nothing really “good” that would make them think we would be good targets or make them want to stay right around here. And make sure they know the supplies were donated by everyone in our area, so wouldn’t be making any single homestead a target.
    I hope to set up four sets of buckets in widely separated areas…one for single folks or a couple, one for folks with kids, one for larger groups and one for folks we know that are wanting to travel to be with family or friends – that one will be more generous, including seeds and such.
    And while the author’s idea of handing out a survival sheet seems like a good idea…on further thought it will let folks know you have a lot of knowledge and the means to implement it – and you will probably end up with folks who just plain refuse to leave because you obviously know more than they do about the situation and they are looking for someone to take care of them. Unless you put such a sheet well away from your immediate area…say, miles down the road.

  12. A great article on a great topic. Thank you for presenting it. Please let me share these ideas with you all:

    Many, many, short term grid down scenarios have and will occur before the regional apocalypse does. So there are many opportunities coming to enact the parable of Good Samaritan.

    Community Emergency Response teams are urging people to Camp In Place. Like most of you, I have decades of experience camping and roughing it on foot, on horseback, in a small fishing boat, and in a pickup truck.

    However our society should encourage people to survive in a house structure, unless it’s totally unusable. A broken house can still provide shelter as long as security allows. So enabling people to camp out in them is a more survivable option than living in wilderness. As such, we who will.be operating in collapse situations should make some plans on how we’ll deal with displaced individuals.

    Having extra electric drills and long drywall screws, tarps, and those sort of things for weatherproofing structures is a good Plan B or C.

    I have been grabbing cheap used tents, stretchers, cots, crutches, 5 gallon buckets, old Coleman stoves and lanterns (i check each for functionality), and other items. Store them in heavy duty tubs. If you can find used sleeping bags or quilts cheap, get them.

    And again, don’t cast pearls to swine and avoid dogs stampeding you. The ignorant and impatient will simply grab these and possibly kill themselves with flaming fuel or propane.

    Storing rice, dried peas and beans is a good alternative. I plan to be ready to take them to a food kitchen in a mass event. Not give them away, although I am prepared to assemble several buckets of stuff to hand out if needed, including toilet paper.

    So the above items are shaped to keep people in their small towns where there are more resources, rather than pushing them out into the rural areas. I like that strategy. I also am prepared to hand out some refilled soda bottles and gallon water jugs. I label each and date them with a permanent marker.

    Places like Habitat for Humanity, St Vincent de Paul, yard sales, have all been great places for me to find bargains. WINCO and the LDS pantry are my best sources for food. I call the people there by name and make friends with them, even though I don’t work at WINCO or attend LDS.

    Best wishes and God Bless you all.

  13. All – thanks for the great comments. Regarding the issue of making yourself a target as a result of providing charity to others – unless you’re so isolated that no one can ever find you or you completely seal yourself in your house and shoot anyone that comes near I believe that could potentially happen no matter what you do. Once people get desperate enough they’ll most likely either beg/demand from those that appear stronger or better off than themselves, or attack and steal from those that appear weaker than themselves. Our approach won’t be children and puppies handing out the kits, it’ll be several heavily-armed and alert folks. People sneaking into our area and trying to steal or take what’s ours by force is an issue we will need to be able to deal with even if we don’t plan on handing out charity kits, so we have plans for armed guard patrols, trip alarms, securing our houses, etc.

  14. cord7…. we have a similar system called blessing bags. One gallon ziploc bags with raisins, snack bars, Vienna sausage, e z open tuna cans,etc. small hand soap, face cloth, one pair of socks, $5.00 in ones, and some religious oriented hand outs.

    We approached our family dentist some time ago with our idea and she graciously donated a box of small tubes of toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss so these go in the bag also.

    I think this idea is easily adaptable for providing assistiance in a SHTF scenario.

    Would probably be a good idea to have a supply of bottled water to hand out also. My wife and I keep several bags in our vehicles and take time to have 10-12 kits in the garage all the time for replenishment.

  15. I really hate to sound like a grumpy pessimist, but…., the things you propose giving to people are things that you would need a survival mindset to use. Anyone with a survival mindset isn’t going to be wandering around like a lost dog. I think you are wasting resources giving stuff to people who aren’t going to survive anyway.

    It really upset me to see some of my hard earned assets thrown away after i donated them to a local immigrant family from Syria, because the dates were expired on some of the cans, or because the clothing wasn’t new.

    I can’t imagine what you are going to think after you find these items in the ditch a few yards down the road. “Why would that crazy person give me a paint can with holes in it, and a piece of wire, didn’t they know we needed some frozen TV dinners and a working microwave?”

    1. I also hate to sound like a grump, Mike. There is a reason for expiration dates on food, no need to explain. When I donate, I give nothing that I wouldn’t consume myself. And when products are beyond expiration dates, I usually don’t use. So, if it’s not good enough for me, well, you get the picture. Better to donate some fresh stuff, rather than simply discarding what you have no use for.

      1. I respectfully suggest one researches expiration dates for canned food. Most are very opportunistic to benefit the canning companies. Personally, I have consumed canned food that has passed the expiration date up to four years and could not detect any degradation in taste and quality. At most the nutritional content is somewhat degraded.

  16. It is a most difficult subject. Yet it reflects generous hearts acting from conscience to share with those in emergency situations. How few do. Kudos to your group.

    I’m torn from two opposing impulses. To distribute your emergency items from a church or centralized community center with no one knowing where the goods came from thereby allowing perhaps too many strangers into the center, or to distribute the items at a point outside town and have resourceful individuals sneak back under cover of dark with the danger that can bring. I think it will depend on the amount of armed guards you have to set around the perimeter of the town.

    I think I remember from the novel “One Second After” that the town kept the huge numbers of folks moving down the road and ONLY allowed in someone who had significant skills that would contribute to the group. All will depend on the severity of the emergency and what size area it covers. If it’s only regional then the Feds will eventually show up. If national then you must make hard decisions to protect your group. The
    concept of triage comes onto play. Pick the most experienced and ethically sound person to be the leader.

    If it’s really WROL, then I personally want to be near a Mormon community where I can get a meal, share any hard work of any kind, and contribute whatever skills I have to the group for mutual benefit. Ah, for wishful thinking.

  17. Keeping charity secret sounds good, but how do you know that desperado you tried to send on down the road will not turn around and return to you, the source? How do we know the Community Food Bank will not do the same and confiscate our supplies “for the good of the community”? We don’t. Those decisions will require an assessment of the circumstances at the time, based on our experience and wisdom; Lord help us all! — But, unless you intend to stay in hiding until everyone else is dead you will eventually need to have “contacts” or “allies” or new “friends”. It will be necessary to be a known member of a “community” of people. At some point you will need them as much as, or more than they need you. Your crops, or your hunts, or your supplies, or your health, or the continuity of your group will fail – then you will need others. At that time each and all of those others will evaluate you to determine your future worth to them and their community. They will use your past, or what they know of it to make that determination.

    If you have not made and maintained personal or business relationships or in some way created feelings of good will towards yourself they will leave you alone. Just like that stinky little kid sitting in the back or your elementary school classroom – the Kid no one would talk to or play with! You’ll need help but will not get it.

    They say “life is a negotiation”, I guess that will never be more true than in a barter economy. After the SHTF everything will be traded including character, trust, and reputations. Hummm, I thought post apoplectic live was supposed to be simpler; well, maybe not so much!

  18. When you have to hand them out, take them to your local church, then direct the needy people to your church. You might have to ask before doing this, but it is the old time way of giving charity. It keeps you anonymous to some extent.

  19. All I can do is offer my Praise to you for even CONSIDERING what options YOU can make available to help others.
    Inspite of any negatives, to engage in the thought YOU will be approached for help and thereby implementing something to offer is displaying a serious awareness and evaluating your core Faith.
    In my community here in the lower Northeast, very close to NYC, I pretty much see people more as scavengers. ill prepared and ignorant. Yet, your compassion has touched me to re-evaluate my self, what I believe, and what I should and could do for others.
    It will not be easy. Yet I THANK you, deeply from my heart, for providing “food for thought.”
    May God lead you through and Bless you.

    1. Perhaps it would be a good idea to talk with your pastor about “what if” for a mentally manageable disaster – say a hurricane, forest fire, or whatever is apt to happen in your area. You don’t have to discuss OPSEC, just say that you and some friends could come by and leave things for the church to donate to people in need. Many churches do that anyway (mine has a mini food pantry and thrift shop), so it’s not a big jump.

      You could also discuss with the pastor the idea of putting out word for people to come by and donate extra food, clothing, etc. should a disaster occur.

      The local Catholic school in the town I work in did that after a horrific storm. The hallway was jammed with big bags of donations, and that way after the first load had already be given away.

      If the message is that everyone is expected to share whatever they can spare, you will not be noticed, and there will be a lot more supplies to give out.

  20. It is probably the most difficult prepper subject of all. I can’t say how I will handle it, because I don’t know the situation I will face, until I am actually facing it. Family comes right after G*d, and everyone else is in third or whatever place after that. If you don’t take care of your own family, you’re getting ready for that whirlwind reaping the Bible talks about. Children are a regular Crucible to handle, either your own, or those of others, and have very basic needs. If they’re not preserved somehow during extremely difficult times, then there is no future. Yet your own survival and that of your own family is at odds with helping non-family. All those caveats about OPSEC and PERSEC apply if you intend to help others, and I truly believe Christ is pleased by charity towards any in need. I would only add to this very frank discussion that Christ did not create you a fool, so don’t become one. I start my day with a long list of Thank You’s to G*d and all those by name I ask for G*d’s grace to fall on. The first thing I ask for is Wisdom. Going to practically need the wisdom of Solomon for the days when the Schumer has hit the fan.

  21. I appreciate the risks involved in helping others but cannot help but imagine that one of those others might be me or one if my children or parents, far from home and stripped of supplies by circumstance. With all due respect for OPSEC etc. I hope that a “helping hand” would be extended and also hope that I am brave enough and prepared enough to offer the same. Without caution we may lose our lives but without compassion and humanity we will lose our souls.

  22. I do appreciate all of the replies on this. Personally I have opted to give away plastic gallon buckets (with lids) containing long lasting food and items. Beans and rice go in every one. But more that discussing what to give away I would like people to think of the risk of exposure to communicable diseases. I have decided that as well as any giving will be done far from my dwelling that the actual giving will be done by setting a bucket down and backing off. Let the recipient then come forward to get it. That might sound cold but it is better than bringing a really unwanted guest home.

  23. Excellent article! Brings up a point that I think we have all thought about. Some really great comments and I think this question probably will never be satisfactorily answered until you have to experience it and use your judgement and conscience at the time. There is probably no one answer, as the situation will probably dictate how you handle the event, keeping in mind your family’s safety then and down the road.

  24. I would be cautious handing out lighters, if conditions are dry they could start a forest/grass fire that burns you out in the process, remember these people may not be the brightest bulbs. I would also agree make sure they do not follow you home, maybe leave a rear guard hid in ambush with less than lethal [rubber] buckshot weapons to discourage followers. Plan to have less lethal at my gate for the ones who while not dangerous refuse to leave.

  25. I’ll provide the refugee with free water (as I have an abundance); free advice; and good directions (to somewhere else). Other than water and talk, any tangibles would be provided by a 3rd party not near my AO.
    Panhandle Rancher

  26. Give a man a fish, you’ll feed him for a night.
    Teach a man to fish, you’ll feed him for the rest of his life.

    Give a man a fire, you’ll warm him for a night.
    Set a man on fire, you’ll warm him for the rest of his life.

    sorry I had to get that off my chest

  27. The Chinese have been dealing with this for thousands of years and have come up with a philosophy of only helping those who you are willing to help long term(years to life). They don’t do this lightly and as the result of many experiences. Look at the “Blood Chit” on the jackets of the Flying Tigers and allied servicemen in WWll that promised rewards for those who helped otherwise they would of been left. Remember a helping hand can get bitten.

  28. there are alot of really paranoid mean people on this thread, ” give them a bucket with a bible attached ” ! mentality, truly disturbing, I went through cancer and chemo, the people who were the kindest were the ones who mowed my lawn, gave me frozen meals, took me to the oncology, I don’t have much even today, but I still fish, hunt and can find my way around the vast forests here and forage, yet even so, I still will help those I come across when a mass large event occurs, here in Australia, it’s un Australian to not help strangers or your mates, this country was built upon mateship, oh and the ones I got the most help from were the non religious ones !. Want to be a believer and practice real compassion and help, make like the Samaratan on the road,

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