My wife and I have started a blog aimed specifically toward helping needy families. It’s called Dad In Distress and is the product of many conversations between us about how we might help people who are struggling through situations with which we are all too familiar. The project is small right now, but one day we hope to see it grow into an online conduit for needy families all over the US.
So far we’ve been able to help a couple of families with some of our daughter’s outgrown clothes and we have decided to donate a percentage of our earnings from Associated Content and Gather toward the effort as well, so we’re off to a good start. However, we started wondering about what else we could do to help these families and what we came up with is the DID box (short for the Dad In Distress box). We brainstormed about it for a couple of hours and then decided to publish the idea to Associated Content. After all, if we can get this idea out to every community in the US then we are helping the needy in those communities indirectly by encouraging others to participate where they live.
DID boxes are easy to make and you can work on one box at a time until you get it finished. Just make a list of all the items that you need for each DID box and then buy one of those items every time you visit the grocery store. Once you’ve completed a box, donate it to a shelter or food bank in your area or take it directly to a family that you know might need it.
Here was our idea for one DID box:
Individual Canned Goods
Load every DID box with four cans each of four different vegetables, four different fruits and four of any variety of canned pasta. Just to be clear, that’s forty-eight cans of food.
For vegetables, we recommend whole kernel corn, carrots, potatoes and great northern beans. These items cover a variety of nutritional needs while offering selections that most people agree with. I know, I know; beggars can’t be choosers. But needy families are filled with broken spirits that don’t need the added misery of trying to struggle through foods that they hate just to survive. They might be needy, but they’re still human.
For fruits, we suggest peaches, pears, oranges and pineapple. These can be eaten straight out of the can, added to oatmeal and even mashed up for infants.
For pasta, any variety of Chef Boyardee will gladly be accepted by a hungry family. Canned chicken and dumplings are great too.
Try to avoid tomatoes, tomato pastes, pie fillings and anything else that are sub ingredients to bigger dishes. These are great for someone who is about to do some serious cooking, but most needy families won’t have a use for them.
Individual Dry Foods
I suggest adding a box of tea, a small jar of instant coffee, a small jar of non-dairy creamer, a small bag of sugar and a box each of instant rice, instant oatmeal and hot chocolate to every DID box. You can add dried beans if you want, but most needy families aren’t going to use those either. Keep convenience in mind when you’re putting these things together.
Add one Old El Paso Hard & Soft Taco Dinner kit, an 8 ounce can of refried beans and a 28 ounce can of canned beef in each box. This is an entire taco dinner for four people minus the toppings.
Also, add one box of saltine crackers and four 10 ounce cans of soup. That is a sleeve of crackers and a can of soup per person. You can buy the store brand soups if you want to, but I recommend Campbell’s Chunky soups or Campbell’s Select Harvest soups. They cost a little more per can, but they are good wholesome food. The last thing a hungry family needs is cheap food to make them feel worse than they already do about their situation.
In every DID box, include a can opener, a box of plastic utensils, and a package each of paper plates, napkins and toilet paper. You can pick these up at your local Dollar General store for next to nothing. Shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste and shaving crème are also great ideas as are disposable razors, toothbrushes, tampons and Tylenol.
As you can see, one DID box can supply a needy family with enough food to last them a couple weeks plus extra supplies. It may take you a while to get a box together, but when you do it’s a great way to help struggling families in your community.