human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

The charity bags

How tradition inspires charity

It all began three years ago, on the Day of the Poor, at Caritas of the Poznan Archdiocese. A group of young volunteers took a bag. It was just a simple paper bag, but they called it “tytka,” as it is a traditional name used in the region. The volunteers wanted to do something out of the goodness of their hearts. Their hearts were full of love for their regional traditions as well. They took the bag and put some food in it. They went out into the streets, found a person in need, and gave him the bag. They decided to do that again before Christmas next year. However, a group of volunteers was bigger and they had more “tytkas”.

The initiative of a small group of young people turned into a nationwide campaign. The Charity Bag campaign, as it was called afterwards, gathers 17 diocesan Caritas now. Diocesan Caritas organisations prepare paper bags and volunteers take them. They go to shops, buy food and detergents, and encourage others to do that. Then they distribute the bags full of necessities among the poor. Does it work? Last year in all dioceses approx. EUR 700,000 worth of food were collected and 130,000 bags were distributed.

In other regions volunteers decided to name bags in their regional dialects as well: “tutka”, “siatka”, or “paka”. The campaign has also evolved. People can fill the bag with food, but they can also sponsor it by transferring the funds. Different groups of people are engaged in the Charity Bag campaign: Caritas volunteers, parishes, families, and individuals. People all over Poland try to remember about those who are usually forgotten and give them a bit of their hearts in the form of bread, rice, or dish soap. It is a little gesture from one child of God to another.

More information in Polish

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Agnieszka Zarzynska

Institutional Development Officer
Caritas Europa

faith and action