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Remembering the Homeless During Thanksgiving Holidays

Updated on August 10, 2013

Giving Thanks for Our Abundance

This time of year, many people around the world are giving thanks for the blessings in their lives. Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in the U.S. and Canada. And, during the Christmas season worldwide, people also traditionally express appreciation for good fortune by giving gifts to loved ones.

Giving thanks is a personal expression and varies from individual to individual. Some people choose to give back by donating time at soup kitchens, or via money through charity organizations.

Other people take their gifts to the street, quite literally, to capture the plight of the homeless during the holiday season. The images below show how little some people have, and hopefully will encourage you to give more, or at least give thanks for the gifts we have.

After all, that is the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Remembering the homeless during the holiday season
Remembering the homeless during the holiday season | Source

Don't Judge the Homeless

"People who know they are important, think about others. People who think they are important, think about themselves." - Hans F. Hansen

Instead of judgment, why not give homeless people compassion? After all, we do not know their individual story that has led to their current condition. Today, many people judge the homeless as having "chosen" their circumstance as a result of drug or alcohol use or laziness. But many of these people have served their country as veterans, are victims of mental illness or abuse, or simply have fallen on hard times that have nothing to do with their own personal decisions.

The next time you see a homeless person on the side of the road, don't ask yourself what they have done to put them in that situation. Instead, consider what our society has failed to do - whether by providing adequate health care, etc. If you worry about handing out money that may encourage drug abuse, why not consider other ways to help needy people? One of my good friends carries a huge box of granola bars in her car to hand out the window to hungry individuals at intersections. In addition, Boy Scouts in my hometown construct bunk beds and help out at shelters.

Down and out during the holidays
Down and out during the holidays | Source

Helpless Homeless Children

Even if you cannot help yourself from casting some blame on homeless people for their situation, I hope that you at least consider that homeless children are entirely innocent and should be assisted to the best of our abilities.

Sadly, many children are counted among homeless people. In fact, about 39% of the total homeless population in the United States are kids under the age of 18. Consider that figure - nearly 1/2 of those that are homeless are children. How can we blame them for their plight?

Homeless children represent the most helpless of our homeless population. They have literally been born into the cycle without bearing any blame for their situation. While many social systems can help these unfortunate children, including food stamps, school meal programs and the like, there are few programs that can help put a roof under kids' heads.

Homeless children are some of the saddest images during the holiday season
Homeless children are some of the saddest images during the holiday season | Source

Causes of Homelessness

According to the United States Conference of Mayors,the main cause is the lack of affordable housing. Other major causes of homelessness include:

  • mental illness
  • substance abuse
  • low-paying jobs
  • unemployment
  • domestic violence
  • prisoner release
  • poverty

Wikipedia Homelessness Statistics

Up to 3.5 million people are homeless each year, which translates to about 842,000 people per week. These figures comprise about 1% of the total population in the U.S., or about 10% of its poor.

Consider these startling homelessness statistics:

  • 40% are families with children
  • 24% are married
  • 49% are African Amercian (over-represented compared to 11% of general population)
  • 35% are Caucasian (under-represented compared to 75% of general population)
  • 22% are considered to have serious mental illness or are disabled
  • 30% have substance abuse problems.
  • 46% report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.

Have you given thought to what you are thankful for?
Have you given thought to what you are thankful for? | Source
Homeless people make their way on the streets
Homeless people make their way on the streets | Source

Have You Ever Known Someone in Need?

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Donate to Help the Homeless

This year, the Salvation Army is using credit card machines to help make it easier to donate during the holiday season. The traditional bell-ringing people near the red buckets can now take more than just cash and coins. Next time you walk past a volunteer during the holiday season, consider taking out your credit card or debit card and making a small donation, even if your wallet is otherwise empty.

You don't have to give only money to help the homeless. Our church runs a weekly soup kitchen and looks for volunteers to help prepare and serve the food. Both tasks require no output of money (unless desired) and can be accomplished in a weekly donation of 2-4 hours. Just think - over a month's time, you can make a significant difference by giving only 8 hours, which is only 1/3 of a single day!

Give a hand out to the homeless this holiday season
Give a hand out to the homeless this holiday season | Source
Portrait of homeless man
Portrait of homeless man | Source
Can you give to help the homeless this holiday season?
Can you give to help the homeless this holiday season? | Source

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks


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    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you so much, Beth!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Here is a good link for anyone who is considering what they might do to help.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you Beth, you have a beautiful way of expressing my emotions, as well. Best to you - thanks again, Steph

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You have some wonderful hubs and recipes here. I was drawn to this one b/c Ive been feeling the desire to help in a soup kitchen or something this Thanksgiving... I wanted the whole family to do it with me. Thanksgiving always leaves you a bit empty and a bit stuffed, not a great combo. I need to pray about this... thanks for providing more inspiration. :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Regardless of fault, at the very core of the issue, as human beings we are willing to let another human being live without shelter, that is disturbing. Yes, of course there are people who don't want to break the cycle of homelessness, and those who want something for nothing; however we do not know a person's situation at first look. In my opinion homelessness transcends personal, religious, and political beliefs and is simply humanity...perhaps at its' worst.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! I also would want my kids and grandkids to show compassion to those who need our help. No one has the right to judge, why a person became homeless or needs any kind of assistance. Who knows, one of us, one day, might need help from the people we helped out.Voted up!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you oceans,

      I want to leave a legacy with my kids that: (1) you are no better than those on the streets; and (2) show compassion in whatever way you can, because that defines you as a human being. I hope that people will consider those less fortunate year round, but at the very least the holiday season is a time that we should think about reaching out and giving to the best of our abilities. Cheers, Steph

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Steph, this is a great reminder to us all. Its a great time of year to review how to help. Even for those with no extra money to give, can give of their time or labor somehow. Great hub, thank you for sharing.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thank you Prasetio and William - it always feels good to lend a helping hand. The Salvation Army volunteers are so cheerful, as well. One of our favorite things to do this time of year is the "Giving Trees" where you can take tags and purchase Christmas gifts for needy children and families. Best, Steph

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      I'm delighted that I came across this Hub. It is critically important that all of us do what we can to help the homeless -- and to encourage others (and the government) to do more to lend them a hand. I'm also happy to see the Salvation Army mentioned here (It's my favorite charity. I never pass a kettle without making a contribution.) Thanks.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub, Steph. You share fact about what happened outside. We should more care about this and I thought we wait the solution. Giving the money isn't good for them. But give them jobs is something "more wisely". Thank you very much. Rated up!


    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi twoseven - thank you! I'm glad my ideas helped. I also want to emphasize the setting an example for other people. Last year, on Thanksgiving, we left a restaurant with extended family. As we walked to our car, we passed a person sitting on the street. All I had in my wallet was a $5 bill. I asked my youngest son to give it to him, and the memory of the look in both of their faces (my son and the homeless man) will stay with me forever. Best to you, Steph

    • twoseven profile image


      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great hub! Thank you so much for writing so well about this important subject. I think it's particularly great that you've included tangible ideas about how to help. The next time I go to Costco, I'm going to get a big box of granola bars and keep it in the car, just like your friend.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi everyone,

      It is so heartwarming to read the compassionate comments, especially those of you that have been homeless or come close to it. I truly loved writing this hub, and I hope that perhaps a few more people will be moved to help as they can during the Thanksgiving holidays and year round. Best, Steph

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      It's a very sad state of affairs in both your country and mine up north in Canada. Homeless in abundance, squeezey kids, panhandlers, homeless laying in cardboard homes. It saddens me, but for the grace of God I am working and paying my way and surviving.

      Although I have sat with many, emptied my heart and my pockets and felt their pain. I to have had my hard times and the taste of Jack nearly did me in and would have put me in the streets if it had not been for a friend who rescued me. I have struggled and I know the feeling of loss, and hunger.

      This poet has written about the homeless and I have sat on the curb with some very brilliant people who don't deserve their fate. It's a dangerous world and the mean streets can be very cold and bitter to the soul.

      Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention, we have to find a better way of surviving outside of living in the streets, alleys, abandoned warehouses and dumps.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Awesome, Steph! I think that few people CHOOSE to be homeless and "milk the system." That's a judgmental attitude that doesn't take into consideration all the accurate reasons you cite. We don't know why people are on the streets. Compassion should be our first response.

      I agree with crazyhorseghost in feeding our own first. I donate money from time to time to Feeding America. And I have donated lots of stuff to our local Salvation Army, as well as clothing items, blankets, socks, and other requested items to a local day shelter. Homelessness is a huge problem. Thank you for reminding us of our own abundance of blessings, as we sit here in a warm house typing on laptops, while others wonder where their next meal will come from and if they'll have to spend another night out in the cold. Excellent hub. Voted up and across the board, except for funny. Everything but funny.

      And to TED, who wrote the comments about pets turned out on the streets, too. That is NOT a joke, I agree. I have a heart for animals, and it pains me that any domestic animal should be turned out on the streets because the family can no longer feed themselves or their pets. I also give to pet organizations, as well as taking in half a dozen cats (plus my dog).

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      8 years ago from United States

      Hi Steph! Great hub! I hope more of us will take the time to share with the homeless (and be less concerned about those that milk the system). While many of us have much to be thankful for, putting a smile on the face of someone who is less thankful could be life changing.

      Anyway, voted up, up and away!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      and this may sound like a joke but its not what about the pets of people forced on to the street!!?!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      The statistics of the homeless is just staggering....

      You make such a good point about making eye contact, instead of looking away.

      The thought of homeless children is heartbreaking.

      A well written hub, the photos you have chosen are very moving, voting up and thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Steph, Your compassionate presentation of the tragedy of homelessness is admirable. There may be many reasons for homelessness but as you point out we do not know all those whys and wherefores, but what we do know is that we are looking at another human being. The judgmental walls that people build in their minds against suffering by those who are deemed to be “less than” may be mental but they are often as hard and as strong as bricks --- a quite disheartening attitude which seems best expressed by Hamlet’s woeful observation, “The time is out of joint. O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right!” (Act 1 scene 5)

      The flip side is to live our lives in gratitude for our blessings without feeling superior to those in need and do our part to make the world a better place for everyone.

      One of my friends ran a rescue mission with her father, and many of their regulars were Vietnam vets. They felt welcome there, and apparently there was a circuit of appreciative missions that they visited throughout the country. They felt like outsiders when they tried to live so-called normal lives because they had missed out on huge chunks of Americana during their service to their country and afterwards in post-traumatic stress concerns. Time had not seemed to be on their sides. Fortunately, they were finding their own measures of peace --- well deserved after fighting in a senseless war and battling internal demons begotten in war's inhumanity for decades afterwards.

      My sister Derdriu wrote a hub, “Tackling Hunger: Plant a Row for the Hungry and the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” which shows how a difference was made by a man whose conscience haunted him for refusing to give money to a homeless man in our nation’s capital and how federal employees in Annapolis for over a decade have generously given of their time and resources to reduce the problem of hunger.

      If only everyone dedicated as little as an hour or less out of every week to do something, without judgment, for the hungry and the homeless, that would have to make a difference.

      Thank you for your sensitive coverage of this inhumane situation.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Uninvited Writer. Sad, indeed. :( Thanks for the comment, Steph

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      It's sad that some want the US to become an ugly, ugly place where no one cares about anyone else, where empathy is dead and compassion is non-existent.

      Great hub Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi AmericanRomance,

      Of course there are people "working the system," and those that have refused care, walked out of rehabilitation facilities, etc., etc. I remember a situation years ago on the Seattle waterfront where a man and woman approached our family and begged for money to get across the state, claiming that their car had broken down. I was upset when my dad said no. However, 2 week later, the same couple was still spinning their tale on the waterfront. People like this negatively affect those that are truly in a difficult situation due to no fault of their own.

      And even "fault" is a tricky concept. It can be easy to say with 20-20 hindsight that you shouldn't have bought that home in 2005 before you lost your job and the economy tanked. Who are you to blame but yourself for stretching to make mortgage payments? Why should we feel bad that your house was foreclosed and you have nowhere to go? Well, I know a number of smart people that ended up in this very predicament. No help from the government to get a mortgage modification, and certainly no help from the banks.

      Anyway - I agree that cash handouts to people on street corners can raise trust issues. Consider donating used blankets and coats or volunteering at a soup kitchen instead. I'm always surprised at the types of people that show up for a needed meal. Best to you, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Robie,

      Yes, the poor children! One of my friends shared a really heartbreaking, yet touching story this week. Her son noticed that a boy in his class came to school every day in the same dirty t-shirt and that he didn't own a coat. He asked his mom if they could please go and buy something for the child to wear. It's a delicate situation, of course, because pride is involved, but an example of how our own children notice what is going on the world around them. We are modeling behavior all the time.

      My heart goes out to the children, especially. Best, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi SanneL - we can do more, even if we cannot help everyone. How about the mere act of being human? Instead of looking away and pretending that they are invisible, make eye contact and smile. Try not to fall into the trap of believing you can't do enough and at least try to do something. Cheers, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Crazyhorseghost,

      The statistics about New Orleans are shocking. And what is up with corporations like Wal-Mart? Your comment that homeless people need help year-round and not just during Thanksgiving and Christmas is especially noteworthy. Where I live, schools offer 2x weekly free lunches at several parks over the summer. Movie theaters offer free admission on T-Th mornings with the donation of cans of food over the summer. We can do more. Best to you, Steph

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 

      8 years ago from America

      Explain to me why 50% of Americans are on welfare, live in hud houses and get food stamps, yet we have homeless? It doesn't make sense! It is impossible to live in this country and be homeless, We give to anyone that ask, mainly those who don't deserve it! I bet for everyone you believe we should have compassion for I can find 1000 that are getting that "compassion" undeserved! I can see mental illness being a cause but most like the OWstreeters want it without earning it the old fashioned way! Or they are drug and alcohol related problems! Hard to take the time or have the sympathy for those who are nuisance to society!

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      This hub is just wonderful on so many levels. Thanks for drawing attention to homelessness in America-- I am especially saddened by the numbers of homeless children. Shame on us as a people for that.

      Great job-- voting up on every level and sharing this bigtime. Thanks Steph.

    • SanneL profile image


      8 years ago from Sweden

      A needed and very initiative hub!

      We can't forget those people that are less fortunate. It is just so heartbreaking to know there are so many homeless people in this world, and we can not help them all, even if we wanted to. However, just by donating or helping out in some little way, it could make a big difference to someone. Furthermore, instead of spending our time and energy, judging the homeless, we should rather spend our time and energy helping them.

      Bravo! Voted up!:)

    • crazyhorsesghost profile image

      Thomas Byers 

      8 years ago from East Coast , United States

      I really enjoyed your Hub Page and appreciate you doing it. I work daily with the poor, hungry, and homeless and they need all the attention they can get. Unfortunately there are several million hungry children every night right here in the USA but all anyone seems to worry about is hungry children in foreign countries.

      14.000 Homeless People are living on the streets of New Orleans still yet. Yes they are still there even though it has been years since the hurricane. Another 300.000 people want to come home to New Orleans but they have no home to come home to.

      Tonight here in North Carolina we provided meals and food to

      531 Men

      61 Women

      105 Children

      All with out government funds. A lot of the food was rescued from Supermarket Dumpsters. Some of it was taken by civil disobedience. Several of us including myself have been threatened with arrest for rescuing perfectly good food from supermarket dumpsters. Food Lion is one of the good ones. They have provided us with tons of food, produce, and bakery products to feed hungry people. Wal-Mart is the one that keeps threatening to have us arrested.

      I will do anything and everything I can to feed hungry Americans. We should feed our fellow Americans not only at Thanksgiving and Christmas but also all the other days of the year. Even one hungry American is one to many.

      Again thank you for a great Hub Page here. It is appreciated.


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