Gather your friends and family for a fun kit-making party that benefits your favorite nonprofit. From backpacks to care packages, make a difference at home.

By Rhoda Brimberry and Anna Crelia of Loot Finer Goods and Loot Rentals, Photos by Randi Reding

This month, we’re focused on slowing down and taking advantage of lazy summer days while battling the heat. We wanted to put our helping hands to work and offer up a different kind of entertaining that was focused on giving back. Our cookie-and-kits party was just the ticket and great for all ages.

Kit making has become more prevalent throughout the years. Many charities are focused on care-package kits for deployed soldiers, homeless people and cancer patients. Organizations like Operation Shoebox give detailed instructions about what to pack for soldiers so you can put together your own kit-making party with all the instructions needed. 

Clean the World also provides instructions for creating kit-making events in your own home, right down to providing the contents. The organization is focused on serving impoverished communities, but also diverting hotels’ amenity waste from landfills by repurposing unused soaps and other hygiene products. All you have to do is gather some kit makers, supply a location and have some fun creating these valuable hygiene kits. 

Charity Anywhere Foundation provides lists of kits the nonprofit is in need of for the various communities it supports, including birthing and newborn kits, as well as hygiene and school kits.

Kit-making parties are a great way to get all your friends together for a good cause. While enjoying quality time with friends is cause enough, adding the extra element of charitable giving gives the party deeper meaning and allows your guests to feel a greater connection to the community.

For our kits, we decided to support a favorite Austin organization, The Neighborhood. The focus of The Neighborhood is to provide support for disadvantaged Austin residents that are working toward being contributing members of the community but have hit a rough patch or have fallen through the cracks and don’t qualify for other assistance. Every year, The Neighborhood hosts a citywide backpack drive, offering prefilled backpacks for students whose families are unable to purchase supplies on their own. 

We gathered our friends in our own neighborhood to help pack some bags for the upcoming backpack drive for the Austin Independent School District’s Back to School Bash Aug. 3 at Palmer Events Center. All the partygoers brought supplies to fill the backpacks: paper, rulers, pens, pencils, folders and markers—everything needed to kick off the school year right. 

To offset your costs as the party planner, why not invite partygoers to pick from the list of what to bring for your chosen kits so the responsibility is shared equally among you as the host and the guests, and they don’t feel awkward arriving empty-handed.

We set up a fun assembly station around the living room to make the process more efficient while allowing guests the opportunity to visit with one another in an intimate environment. Either pass the bags down the assembly line, adding items as the bag goes around, or have each person grab from the different piles to make one bag on their own. Either method works and is a lot of fun.

For an added touch, we included handwritten notes for the students that share our well wishes for a great school year, along with any additional advice or inspirational quotes. 

To encourage participation from our guests and make the environment warm, we felt it was important to provide fun snacks and sips for the occasion. For our gathering, we offered a variety of cookies and goodies to entice all appetites. 

For another fun element include a theme-based movie in the background. Great feature pairings for backpack stuffing include Election starring Reese Witherspoon or another classic school-focused favorite, Grease. If your party centers on military kits, why not play the classic Private Benjamin or MASH? The possibilities are endless. 

Local shelters and charity organizations are always happy to accept kits that help their patrons. Spend some time contacting your local groups to learn their needs, then get your creative juices flowing and create a one-of-a-kind kit-and-cookie party of your own.


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