How to Help Homeless People in the Wintertime
How Can I Help Homeless People?
Find out about helping the homeless including much needed items to help them get through the cold winter months. Being homeless can be tough enough during the summer, but imagine being out in the elements during freezing temperatures, rain or snow.
From blankets to food, I'll give you suggestions on how to donate to the homeless and hopefully, a better understanding of folks who no longer have a place to call home.
Homeless image by Ed Yourdon via Getty Images at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
How People Become Homeless
Many people assume that homeless people are homeless due to substance abuse or that they're too lazy to work. Yes, in some cases that is true, but there are many other reasons that people are living on the street.
Often, when a woman takes her children and leaves an abusive relationship, she walks away with no money. If unable to find someone to move in with or if there are no local shelters that can take her family in, then she has no choice but to live on the streets.
Sometimes people just fall on hard financial times. I met a homeless man one time who used to own a home and held a high corporate position. He lost his job and was unable to find another one. His money ran out, he lost his home and had no other option than to live with other homeless people. This just begins to touch upon why people are homeless.
Homeless family image by Rain Rannu at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
Jobs for the Homeless
Getting a job as a homeless person is no easy task. Most employers want an address and phone number of the person they're considering hiring and most homeless people have neither.
In addition, going to work means having clothes to wear to the workplace and homeless people don't have large wardrobes. In addition, many don't even have a suitable outfit to wear to an interview.
In other words, many homeless people would love the chance to work, but circumstances prevent this from even being able to try. So while some assume that homeless people would rather be homeless than work, often this is not the case.
Man on bench image by Ed Yourdon via Getty Images at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
In the United States of America, the state with the most homeless people is California.
Clothes for the Homeless
In case you're wondering, yes, that's a real person in the snow. This homeless man is just trying to stay warm. Jackets are great to give homeless people, In some cases, it's their only source of warmth. Shoes are also appreciated as well as warm socks. I would also recommend mittens, scarves and beanie hats, particularly for the children.
This doesn't mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money. Perhaps you have some old clothes around the house or consider picking up something at a local second hand store like Goodwill or Salvation. You would also be helping out these organizations as well.
Man in snow image by brownpau at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
Blankets for Homeless
Blankets are very helpful to homeless people. I know a lady who would take any spare money she had just to buy blankets for the local homeless people in her area. She told me just how appreciative the people were to receive them.
I also recommend sleeping bags. These will help to keep their bodies insulated on the cold winter nights. Perhaps you have an old one laying around the house that is no longer used?
Sidewalk image by Henrique Vicente Via Getty Images at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
Pinzon Microtec Blanket
Have you ever been homeless or know someone who is?
Food for the Homeless
Not all homeless people have access to some kind of a soup kitchen or food bank and need food to eat. Although you may want to donate money, unless you personally know the people you are giving to, I wouldn't recommend money. Instead, I would bring them food.
If you enjoy cooking, you could cook a big batch of soup to help warm them up on a cold day. Be sure to bring along some Styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons. Another idea is spaghetti with sauce. It's an inexpensive food and filling. Even some warm muffins would be nice.
If you want to keep it extra simple, how about some sandwiches? Keeping in mind that the homeless don't always have the luxury of eating healthy, I would also add some fresh fruit like apples, oranges and bananas. Remember, most do not have access to a refrigerator or cooking source, so whatever you bring cannot be cooked or refrigerated to eat later.
If the person or persons has a dog with them, pick up something for the dog as well. A can of wet food is a nice treat and a bag of dog food will help to keep the dog fed and healthy.
People image by Franco Folini at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
Helping Homeless Children
I think one of the most difficult sights for me to see are homeless children. Consider donating any kind of warm clothing to them along with mittens and boots. You might also think about an umbrella to keep them dry in the rain.
Various holidays take place during the winter months and sadly, most of these children don't receive any gifts. Contemplate a present for a homeless child. It doesn't have to be anything expensive.
A coloring book with crayons could bring hours of fun. A teddy bear can be cuddled and activity books can be looked at over and over again. Make it extra fun by wrapping them.
You might also want to toss in a new toothbrush with some toothpaste and proper hygiene is important, but not always easy to achieve.
Child image by thelesleyshow at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
Did you know that actor Jim Carrey used to be homeless?
Money for the Homeless
Some people assume that when they see a homeless person going through a garbage container, that they are looking for food. Sometimes this is the case. Other times they are looking for empty bottles and cans that can be taken in to be recycled and thus earning money for themselves.
Consider donating your empty cans and bottles to homeless people. Not only are you helping them, you are also helping with conservation efforts.
man image by flickr4jazz at Flickr through Creative Commons Licensing.
What Homeless People Need
In addition to the above mentioned items, there are some additional ones I would like to suggest. Toiletries such as soap and shampoo are appreciated. So is some kind of container to keep personal items in such as a backpack.
If finances allow, a weatherproof tent can keep people dry during the snow and rain months. Medical supplies are often needed such as ointment and Band-aids.
If you have a cell phone, offer a phone call to a loved one. Lastly, offer them respect and dignity. Take the time to sit down and talk to them. Sadly, many have very little companionship.
Image by Franco Folini at Flickr through Creative Commons licensing.
The Golden Voice Ted Williams
Ted Williams was homeless. By pure luck he was video taped and his "Golden Voice" was discovered. Since that time he has gone on appear on TV shows such as The Early Show and Jimmy Fallon, along with doing voice overs and publishing a book. In other words, just because someone is homeless now, it doesn't mean that things can't change. All someone needs is a chance. Take a listen to his wonderful voice.
Before getting her big break, actress Halle Berry spent time in a homeless shelter.
Do you see homeless people any differently after reading this?
Backpacks on eBay
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All profits from this lens are being dontaed to Nomsa, a Squidoo affiliate charity which helps homeless people.
What do you think would be good to give a homeless person during the winter?