📷Gingras purchasing some of the supplies for the care bags
By Erick Nordby

CHARLTON – Josh Gingras lives in Charlton but has a “special place in his heart for Boston.” He had always liked going to the city starting as a young man and enjoyed people watching and the energy. As he got older and went to the city, he started to notice more and more transient people and it bothered him. He would give out a few dollars here and there when he could but it always stayed on his mind.

Gingras came to the conclusion that he wanted a more deliberate way of helping people. He came to understand that there was a real need for simple things that many people take for granted. That inspired him to start creating and giving out “care bags”.

In 2014 he put together seven bags by himself and handed them out to people as he came across someone in need. The second year he doubled the number of bags and distributed 15 care bags. He just searched the people out and giving them the bags and found that they were all extremely grateful for the bags full of simple necessities.

Gingras says that most people are very appreciative of the help but he does remember a man who was apprehensive to accept a bag. He seemed proud and didn’t want to accept the help. He eventually did take the bag and when Gingras had to circle back he saw the gentleman was already wearing the hat and gloves from the bag. This kind of giving has an immediate and direct impact that Gingras feels good about.

He is not alone. Many people struggle with how and where to help that will make a real difference and this kind of direct giving gained the attention of  his friends and family. In his third year, his friends Ryan Tran and George Gidopoulos joined his team and helped him to source the contents, transport and distribute 25 bags. All three of them were hooked on the idea of doing something to help people directly.

Earlier this year Gingras had a harder time finding people in need of the bags. He suspects the unusually warm weather had people more scattered but he was sure that help was still needed. Through a connection with the Pine Street Inn located in Boston, Gingras is now confident his care bags will continue to find their way to people in need. Just as winter weather seems to have arrived in New England, they delivered 85 men’s and 65 women’s bags to Boston this past weekend.

A portion of the bags as they were being prepared for delivery this past weekend

The contents of the bags have expanded each year. The 150 bags delivered this past Sunday include the following: soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, combs, hand warmers, Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, baby wipes, tampons, toilet paper, body spray, hats, gloves, socks, sweatshirts, scarves, snacks and water.

Gingras said he would love to see this project continue and “doesn’t plan on slowing down at all.”

“We are only constrained by the amount of items that are donated,” he added.

He is committed to helping people have at least some of the basic things they need. He said some people occasionally object to helping people because they think many homeless people have brought on their problems themselves.

“Even if some of them have made bad choices in terms of drugs or crime in the past, they still need and deserve help too” Gingras explains.

And Gingras sees the good in people he connects with. He has seen some of them begin sharing with others right away or giving someone their old pair of gloves when they got something new.

Things like that inspire him to do it again each year.

Gingras and Gidopoulos delivered 150 bags to Boston on Sunday, November 18

Monetary donations to this project can be made all year long through a GoFundMe page, which you can find here.

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