At the plaza at CityCentre, a man moves around handing zip-lock bags to complete strangers. Most accept, some don't, but he moves on undeterred. There's always another taker. He is from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church. Tracy Curtis explains why he and other members of the congregation are handing out these bags: "We want them to help the homeless, so we're helping them help the homeless. We're making bless bags so they can bless others."
Here's what a bless bag is: it's one of those zip-lock bags with a water bottle, toothpaste, a toothbrush, socks, a snack, and a card with information for the homeless about how to get help and services. People could either accepts bags that were already filled, or they could make one themselves at a tent set up in the plaza.
They want people to keep them in your car and hand them out to any homeless people you see.
Bless Friday started in 2010 at one church in West Houston, and has spread to a number of others. It's not just bless bags. Some churches hold food drives and repair people's homes. Why? Well the idea is to provide a counterbalance to the materialism of Black Friday with its sales, hype, and what they see as a loss of perspective. I mean how many times have we seen scenes of shopping chaos and violence?
So, for the Randall Family , it's a good opportunity to switch gears and help the less fortunate. They grabbed several of the bags.
"[We're going to] give them to poor people," said 8-year-old Tye. When asked if she saw a lot of them she responded, "No."
"There's actually quite a few they probably don't notice under the bridges near our house, so there's plenty of people and plenty of need to go around," said her father, Edy.
Will Bless Friday ever replace Black Friday? Unlikely, but that doesn't mean the people behind it are going to stop trying.