Gifts for Homeless Children
Gift Suggestions for Children in Need
Almost all children like to get gifts, but some of them have few opportunities to even own something of their own. Poor children and particularly homeless ones miss out on many of the gifts and holidays other children enjoy.
The following is a list of things that would make excellent gifts for homeless children, whether for Christmas, any occasion, or just because you want to give. Please consider giving one or more of the following suggested items to your local shelter as gifts for needy little ones in your area whether it's near the holidays or not.
Three BasicTips for Selecting Appropriate Presents
- Whatever you give as gifts to homeless children, keep in mind that they will have to carry or wear everything they own, sometimes for hours and hours each day. Keep the items small, light, and easy to wear or carry.
- Avoid toys with small parts that could easily be lost, otherwise, it's likely the child will only have part of a toy in a very short time.
- Avoid anything that looks or actually is expensive. Expensive-looking toys, electronics, clothes, or shoes can make a child a target for theft, vandalism, or harassment.
Winter Coats, Hats, Gloves, and Mittens
Warm winter clothing not only protects kids from the elements it also allows them to have fun while playing outside rather than feeling cold and miserable.
While I've illustrated this article with Amazon products, the best places to get presents for needy children are local stores, department store chains, discount stores, thrift stores, and even your own closets.
Winter coats are often in short supply at charities as children quickly outgrow them and not enough people donate them. A fun winter coat makes an excellent gift. You can buy inexpensive but warm winter coats at thrift stores like GoodWill and Salvation Army, discount stores like Big Lots, and at big box stores like WalMart and Target.
Warm knit hats in colors for boys or girls or in neutral tones are always welcome. Hats often get lost by children, homeless or not, and having more than one hat helps to keep hair clean. Cute styles and colors can make this a practical gift with a sense of fun.
Gloves and Mittens - Warming gifts
No matter the season, anyone who might be sleeping outdoors or in a car at some point would welcome a pair of gloves or mittens to help them stay warm. Stretchy, one-size-fits-most gloves are a good choice because they will fit a variety of sizes, continue to fit with growth, and, due to stretchiness, can be layered over another pair of gloves if necessary. Warm fuzzy mittens can be put over gloves on the coldest days to keep little hands warm, too. Right now, many dollar stores and discount stores are stocking the stretchy, one-size-fits-all type of gloves.
Stuffed Toys That Double as Something Else
Some stuffed toys can double as pillows, blankets, or pajama storage bags. Multipurpose stuffed toys are great because they serve multiple functions and take up the same space as a single function item. The popular "Zoobie" toys and similar knockoffs can serve as blanket, pillow, and toy all in one.
I've seen some really good and inexpensive variations on this theme at Big Lots, Target, and WalMart as well as at a locally based regional chain called Meijer.
Coloring Books and Crayons
This is one item for which I'm going to suggest you break the no small, easily lost parts rule. Homeless children can quickly learn to put the crayons right back into the box after each use. Even if they lose some of the crayons, even a single crayon can keep a kid engaged and entertained if he or she has something to color or draw on.
Crayons and coloring books can be found at most dollar stores and discount stores as well as at big box stores. I like to pick up a few boxes of crayons during back-to-school sales for later gift giving.
Pens and Pencils
Pens and pencils are very practical choices. They are small and easily carried. Pens or pencils on cords or lanyards make the best gifts of this type. The lanyard or cord can be hung around their neck like a necklace or attached to their clothing or a backpack to prevent loss. Pretty types are available for girls and more masculine designs are available for boys. However, plain pens and pencils also make nice little presents and brightly-colored ones will be appreciated by either gender.
They can often be found at dollar stores and discount stores but I've had the best luck snapping them up on closeout at big box stores right after the back-to-school sales.
To do the most good, don't wait until just before Christmas to donate. This will also reduce the need to store gifts in your home until Christmas time.
Toys are the first things most people think of when it comes to holiday giving. When choosing toys as gifts for homeless children, be sure to choose sturdy, easily portable toys without small parts that can be all too easily lost.
Small stuffed animals, cars, dolls, and single piece logic puzzle toys are very popular and provide much-needed entertainment, comfort, and mental stimulation.
Use caution when buying dollar store stuffed toys because I've encountered some that were barely holding together or clearly in violation of safety standards. I make sure there are no parts that can come off and I tug on the limbs, ears, and eyes before giving them.
Age appropriate books make thoughtful gifts for little ones. Avoid books with pop-up pictures as they will come apart much more quickly than regular books. Keep size in mind when choosing books to buy. As mentioned before, homeless children must often carry all of their possessions at once.
I keep an eye out for children's books at the dollar store and discount stores throughout the year.
Sturdy backpacks make some of the most useful presents. Over the years I've seen too many homeless children with nothing more than a plastic grocery bag to carry their meager belongings around. A backpack leaves hands free to do other things and makes carrying things around a lot less of a chore.
While older children would benefit from sturdier, camping type backpacks, cute backpacks work nicely for pre-teens because they are appropriately sized for them.
So many homeless children don't have pajamas. They have to sleep in their clothes, making it harder for them to keep clean and tidy. One-size-fits-most footed pajamas make wonderful gifts for them. Regular pajamas are good, too, and are much easier to find. There's something especially comforting about soft, cuddly sleepwear.
Tips for Giving
Probably the best way to give gifts to homeless children is to contact your local shelters or other charities that serve poor people and and let them handle distribution. You can also donate your children's outgrown clothing, shoes, and toys to your local shelter as well and they will be put to good use. Do not wrap toys or other items with gift paper.
If you do give presents directly, be sure to ask a parent if it's OK to do so first, just as you'd ask the parents of any homed child before giving him or her a gift.
There are lots of nice, inexpensive hygiene products made for kids. It's hard to stay clean and well-groomed when you don't have a home of your own. While very practical, hygiene products often also have a sense of fun that is often lacking in kids' lives. Children also like to have something of their own, even if it's just a toothbrush, comb or hairbrush. Grooming kits that come in their own little bag or case make ideal gifts for homeless children.
Many drugstores, dollar stores, and discount stores have inexpensive, fun, and well-made grooming and hygiene products.
Fleece Blankets and Fleece Blankets with Sleeves
Fleece blankets are light and easily carried. They also provide a great deal of insulation for their size and come in fun or whimsical prints. Fleece wearable blankets can be layered even over coats to help with staying warm while outside in cold weather or when sleeping in unheated or under-heated accommodations.