Isaac’s Blessing Bags

Isaac-Santino Garcia
Isaac-Santino Garcia packs Blessing Bags to distribute to people in need in his community. (Courtesy Jaida Grey Eagle)

We went to deliver food to homeless people on a dingy street corner in St. Paul. The sounds of sirens and the smell of beer lingered in the air. There was a gated off section with two picnic tables and multiple tents. We had brought some food to hand out and immediately people were starting to fight over it. I spotted a man in an old wheelchair pushed by his friends. He was one of the first people I ever got to help, and he was shocked that someone my age was willing to help him. He told me what it was like having to rely on others to take care of him. He said it was already hard enough for his friends to take care of themselves, but they continued to care for him. He didn’t necessarily understand why. “God bless you,” he said. That will always stick with me and has helped push me forward to do what I do. 

In 2016 I moved to a new house in St. Paul. I was worried when I started to see more homeless people on my way to school. I didn’t understand why no one was helping them, especially during the wintertime. I asked my parents what we could do to help. I decided to make a change, which led to the creation of Isaac’s Blessing Bags. 

I am now 15 years old and have been able to turn Isaac’s Blessing Bags into a nonprofit. We have also been able to raise thousands of dollars, including a $10,000 grant from the state of Minnesota. Due to the pandemic, I feel there is no better time to be helping. With the money I have raised, I have been able to buy our supplies: granola bars, juice boxes, water and hygiene supplies. We also try to buy clothes. We accept used clothes or any donations people make. With these, we try as often as we can to hand things out. We also have been working at First Lutheran Church every Christmas to help bring food and clothing to 200 homeless people. I am also now trying to work with my school, Cretin-Derham Hall. They have been helping the homeless for about 20 years now, going to the Dorothy Day Center to help hand out food. Not only do I help people who are homeless, but I continue to help anyone in need, whether it be families who couldn’t pay for Christmas presents or someone who just needed a bus pass to get to work. I know I won’t be able to end poverty by myself, but for now I am doing my best to help whoever I can. I feel what I do isn’t just helpful to others, but a blessing to myself — the feeling you get knowing that you can change someone’s life. 

ThreeSixty Fall News Team students wrote op-ed stories, then turned them into digital essays, inspired by the #360YouthVoiceChallenge, which is inspired by youth.