The number of people sleeping in the metroplex’s streets is rising. Roughly 3,800 people are without homes in Dallas and Collin counties.

A year after the City of Dallas shut down Tent City and cracked down on panhandling, it’s hard to know how best to help.

Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church hopes the 700 stoplight bags they’ve packed changes the public’s perception of the homeless. The plastic bags stuffed with snacks and hygiene products are more than handouts; they’re conversation starters.

“Our hope is that these bags humanize the person out on the street or under the bridge,” says Kathy Lee-Cornell, associate pastor of mission and outreach.

The Portland Rescue Mission inspired the project, Lee-Cornell says. Members of the congregation donated items such as socks, sanitizing wipes, travel-sized toothpaste and granola bars, which were stuffed into plastic bags. They’re available for pick-up throughout the month, and those interested can email for more information.

“Those small things go a long way,” Lee-Cornell says. “That’s what we’re trying to help people remember — not to look at each other with fear, but with compassion and kindness.”

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