Almsgiving During Lent- Let’s Give Better Than Our Worst To The Poor

We are all called to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent. There are endless ways to do this, and donating bags full of stuff is just 1 way. If you haven’t heard of 40 days 40 bags, it’s a simple concept. Each day during Lent, you fill 1 bag of stuff from your home, and donate it. You choose the size of the bag.


I love doing hands-on almsgiving with kids. It’s easy to forget that when we write checks, that’s very abstract to children. Kids can be a part of this. In the past, we’ve put toys away for Lent… but if they have enough stuff to pack it away… some of their stuff can go in these bags. I’ve also done a 40 day pantry box during Lent as a way to get kids involved, which was also a great Lenten activity.

When we did our Operation Shoe Boxes last year, I touched on giving something better than our worst to the poor. I challenged myself to pack those boxes like I was packing them for my own children. You guys have to know that I’m not preaching to you when I type this stuff- I’m talking to myself as well! When ran across this post on facebook, and the whole concept came flooding back to me.

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Mother Teresa’s feet were actually deformed because she always dug through the donations of old shoes, and took the very worst pair for herself. So whoever donated the worst pair of shoes… they were giving their shoes to Mother Teresa. But more than that, they were giving the worst shoes to Jesus.

Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t donate our old things, but as Kendra pointed out, if we have such excess that we’re constantly hauling things into the thrift store, why not dip into our pockets and honor the poor by giving them some things that are worth having? What an amazing example we would set for our children!
I also want to point out that sometimes, our truly worn out things are just trash, and that it’s good to throw things away, too! That’s fighting clutter and materialism, helping us free ourselves up for answering God’s callings and having more time and energy to devote to our spiritual lives. I would really encourage you to read Amy’s free ebook on biblical decluttering: Let Go Of What You Own: A Biblical Approach To Decluttering. This was a very inspirational read for me.

During Lent, we’re supposed to pray, fast, and give alms. So this year, whether you fill a bag every day, just once a week, or just one bag during Lent… you need to know that real people receive the things you’re donating. In fact, they’re really received by Jesus himself. 

So when it comes to your possessions this Lent… Anabelle would like to remind you to get your kids involved, and Let It Go!!!! 
almsgiving for kids
Ann Marie from White House Black Shutters is a 40 Days 40 Bags expert! She’s got full directions, printables, and more about this process- see it all here. And don’t forget to follow along with my progress on instagram and facebook, and you can join in, too using hashtag: #40bagsin40days! 🙂
40 days in 40 bags on instagram and facebook
You’ll find all of my Lenten resources for kids here


  1. ElizabethClare says

    What a thoughtful post! I think this is sooooo true. I do giveaway things we don’t need anymore even if they aren’t our best. I figure someone who has very little may like to have them. BUT we do try to donate generously to the poor. We often give monetarily, but this post makes me reflect on ways to give more tangibly and think of the recipient as a real person. Maybe a shopping spree for someone in need is in order!

    • Great idea! Yes, I do also donate things when we’re finished with them that aren’t our best, but it’s good to remember to try and be generous with donations as well as monetarily. And I always think it’s good to have kids help give stuff- I think they can relate to that better than just donating money.

      • ElizabethClare says

        My thoughts exactly! Money from a checking account is way to abstract for little ones! I know our kids are not aware of our giving. I think I’ll be having a talk with hubby tonight about how we can work on this!

  2. I agree whole-heartedly with donating our best to the poor, not our worst! After being on the receiving end, I have a totally different perspective. In fact, I told my husband that I would be donating brand new socks and underwear to our local share center when we have the opportunity! You can’t (don’t want to) get those second-hand.

    On the other hand, places like Goodwill and our local share center can sell stuff that we consider trash for money that they then use in their ministry. They can take holey clothes and sell them for textile recycling. They can sell shoes. They can sell all sorts of things for cash. So before filling the landfill with yet another bag of holey clothes, check with the place where you would donate them and see if they can still benefit from them.

    Thank you for a great post!

    • Shari, my thoughts exactly. Most donation centers are selling our stuff and sometimes utilize the junk. I sometimes just post my stuff on Craigslist for free to be sure people who need it are actually getting it for free.

  3. I agree whole heartedly. You should never give want you wouldn’t want to receive. Great article, thanks.

  4. The knights of Columbus at our church sponsors a recycling drive once a month – they take cans, plastic bottles and paper . The money they raise helps the poorest of the poor. On a one time basis with rent, utilies or a car repair. So during lent I count the recycling bags I bring to ten. However, others could take their recycling to a recyling center and donate the money they make to a worthy cause or group, I love your blog Lacy and I follow you on Instagram,

  5. Thanks for the post. I have often wondered when people have described this “Lenten” activity and wondered how a self-help home cleaning project helped others… it seemed more like, well, a self-help home cleaning project! 🙂 Making it intentional, and remembering the humanity of the people on the other end could make it more about the other and less about the need to de-junk.

    • Yes, but I would also like to input here that we are all called to the detachment of our earthly possessions. When we are piled down with too much stuff, it can actually make it harder to answer God’s callings in our lives. For instance, thoughts like “We couldn’t possibly move- it will be so much work with all this stuff!” or “How can we have another baby? We don’t have the room in our house.” So I do consider decluttering part of our Christian responsibility, and a good thing to hold yourself accountable to during Lent.

  6. Gail Westhoff says

    I made the Passion Peg Doll set over the summer in anticipation for this Lenten Season. I am so excited to share it with my students. I recall that there was a link using wooden blocks to make Jerusalem and Mount Calvary. Could you kindly send me that link?

  7. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} says

    Thank you for this. You have definitely inspired me.

  8. You raise a really good point. I want to also point out that we can and should declutter even the trash in our homes and sometimes the appropriate way to deal with trash items is to donate them to a recycler. Worn out fiber/textile items can be recycled and many thrift stores accept them for recycling. Also broken and non-working electronics can be handled the same way. You can help the thrift store employees by marking these items before donating, so they know beforehand that the electronics do not work and that this bag is full of rags for recycling. Also, call ahead to make sure your particular thrift store is equipped to do this for you.

  9. Great post! Could you help guide me to the printable 40 bags page? I followed links here from the subscriber email and still couldn’t find it. Thanks!

    • It’s in the Lent pack with the rest of the pages, which is at the very top of the Subscriber Bonus Page.

  10. Lacy, Thanks for the reminder. This weekend we took a group of 30 confirmandi and sponsors to the Catholic Charities thrift store in our area. We go every year to help clean, sort, move furniture, go through donations, etc. It is a great activity for teens – they realize how needed their help is and feel so good at the end of the day. (and if everybody is donating 40 bags of stuff for Lent, Catholic Charities everywhere is going to need some help!)

  11. Thanks Lacy! You are my “Go To Gal” for anything and everything regarding Catholic crafts for kids!