Woman leads effort to fill gift bags with toiletries for homeless

WESTFIELD-Lesley Lambert wants to ensure that every person waking up on Christmas morning at the Samaritan Inn on Free Street will have a gift bag to open.

Lambert’s project is titled “Blessing Bags for the Homeless” and she is accepting donations of toiletries at Park Square Realty on Elm Street until Dec. 12. Donations can be dropped off weekdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

“I saw this done elsewhere and this was what they called the goodie bags,” said Lambert, adding, “the bags are a blessing to the recipient.”

Lesley Lambert, who is leading a project titled “Blessing Bags for the Homeless,” is hopeful that area residents will drop off toiletries at Park Square Realty to contribute to the contents of gift bags that will be assembled for the Samaritan Inn. (LESLEY LAMBERT PHOTO)

Lambert, a realtor with Park Square Realty, is also thankful that owner Ted Cassell allows her to use the office space for the collection.

“I started the collection six years ago because I wanted to do something tangible for the homeless in our community,” she said.

Lambert and her small team of volunteers will gather on Dec. 12 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. to organize and assemble the bags.

“Normally this is a ‘many hands’ event, but with COVID I am limiting the attendance,” said Lambert, noting everyone will be wearing masks and gloves as they assemble the bags.

Lambert said that examples of toiletries needed include skin wipes, gloves, hand warmers, tissues, gum, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo and chapstick.

“I think many of us take our basic needs for granted,” she said. “Right within our community there are people experiencing very difficult times and they need our help. They appreciate having their own bag filled with toiletries and warm clothing items.”

In past years, Lambert noted that the collection from the community has garnered a wide variety of toiletries to fill approximately 100 one-gallon ziplock bags.

“I purchase a good amount of the bags and the community has been extremely generous in their donations,” said Lambert. “We fill them with as many items as they will hold.”

After all of the donations are placed in the ziplock bags, Lambert will deliver them that afternoon to the Samaritan Inn.

“In the past, the Samaritan Inn has held them until Christmas Eve and placed a bag on each resident’s bed so they have something to wake up to on Christmas morning,” said Lambert, noting the remainder of the bags are distributed throughout the year.

“I have always felt that if I was to be a true member of the community, it was my responsibility to give back,” she added.

For more details on the collection, visit her Facebook link at

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