Walking down the sidewalk, a homeless person approaches, and here comes the question: Spare some change? I know you’d rather make some change, of the social kind, because you don’t know where that spare change might go. But how can you help homeless people right now?
Homelessness is a long word for an overwhelming problem with no solution in sight. Politicians and advocates battle endlessly over policy. But what can you do right now?
Take heart because there are some simple ways you can help homeless people in your community.
Homeless Helper #1: Everybody Needs Socks
Imagine you only have one pair of socks, no other socks to wear, no place to wash them — or yourself. Every single day. What will those socks be like after one week? After two weeks?
Between finding shelter, food, and whatever other help they can get, the homeless are on their feet a lot. It’s no wonder socks are the item most requested by homeless people.
So step one is to get a bunch of new socks. Then, decide if you will hand them out or take them to a shelter or other organization that helps the homeless.
If you are comfortable giving them out yourself, you will see how much this simple gift means.
Homeless Helper #2: Share Your To-Go Food
Are you going to a restaurant downtown or another area where there’s a lot of homeless folks? If you get a to-go box at the end of the meal, ask them to include some plastic utensils.
If you can be even more generous, order some extra appetizers or even an entree to give away.
Then, if you happen upon a solitary homeless person as you walk away from the restaurant, you can offer them the to-go box.
I can understand if you might be intimidated. But I worked with homeless persons full time for a few years, and most of them were polite and kind. So stay safe, but don’t be scared. You can even bring some friends with you. You’ll find it’s easy to give the food away, and you will make someone’s day.
Homeless Helper #3: Make Sandwiches
Lioba makes a big bundle of sandwiches, each one perfectly wrapped in wax paper. The ingredients are plain: wheat or white bread, packaged bologna, American cheese, a little mustard. But the lucky people who get to eat them will tell you Lioba makes the best sandwiches in the world.
Somewhere near where you live, there is a place that serves meals or a food bank that gives groceries to the homeless. Once you find it, you can find a way to help just like Lioba did.
Why not try making some sandwiches and bringing them to a local shelter or food pantry?
#3.5: Don’t Wait …
If any of the first three ways appeal to you, we can get this 3.5 up to a full 4. If you want to help even more, reach out now to a shelter or food bank near you and volunteer.
U.S. Food pantries and food banks: https://www.freefood.org/
U.S. homeless shelters: https://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org