This might seem to be the most obvious suggestion, but what might not be as obvious is the fact that you can donate without having to write a check.
Donating clean, well-maintained clothing is a great way to help people experiencing homelessness protect themselves from the elements as well as improve their chances of successfully interviewing for work.
In-kind services or materials
Homeless shelters need the same kind of support that businesses need, so if you can donate copying, printing, food, transportation, marketing assistance, building materials or maintenance services, that would be a huge help.
Household goods or other items
Kitchen utensils, furniture, books, toys, games, stuffed animals, dolls, diapers, and similar items help make homeless shelters more comfortable.
People experiencing homelessness may not have access to libraries, and often find themselves in shelters without very much to do. Providing them with something to read is a good way to lift their spirits. Donating books to a shelter or even organizing a book drive are both great ways to help.
Many nonprofit organizations need computers but simply don’t have the funds to obtain them. If you upgrade to a new machine, consider donating the old one if it’s still in working order.
Kits with simple things like cups, pots, pans, and basic toiletries can soothe a great deal of discomfort for a person experiencing homelessness. Local outreach groups are often able to distribute these kits.
Support is also really critical as people transition out of shelters into housing. Raising money for a security deposit or donating babysitting services can make a world of difference to someone who is getting back on his or her feet.
OTHER WAYS TO HELP
Help facilitate job opportunities
Encourage your company, school, or organization to hire people experiencing both homelessness and unemployment. Most unemployed homeless adults desperately want to work, and just need an employer who is willing to give them a chance.
Volunteering time, even if only a few hours a week, at your local homeless shelter is a tremendous help. This could include working in the kitchen or doing administrative or clerical work. You could also volunteer to help fix up shelters or houses.
- Are you interested in volunteering? Please contact the Continuum of Care in your area.
Follow local politics
It sounds very simple, but simply staying informed and staying vocal is also a great way to help raise awareness of the problem.
Try to avoid using negative labels like “bum” or “hobo” when referring to people experiencing homelessness. By using the phrase “people experiencing homelessness,” you can help subtly remind those around you that people without homes are still people.