Helping The Homeless This Holiday Season

homeless-man-833017_960_720It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s all about giving. Traditionally, we buy gifts for our family and friends. Likewise, many people, especially during this time of year, extend that spirit of giving to those who are less fortunate. If you are considering the latter and want to make an impact through donations or other assistance, remember the homeless.

 

Over half a million people in the US have no home of their own. Many sleep out on the streets thousands of others make their beds in crowded shelters with little privacy and not many resources. Since we discussed veterans last month, it’s important to note that about 8% of homeless individuals, around 47,000 in total, have also served our country. And the numbers are growing.

 

Addressing this problem is not easy to do alone, but here are some actionable steps you can take this holiday season to make brighten someone’s day and improve lives, even if only temporarily.

  1. Donate Unwanted Goods
    In addition food, you can donate clothes and other unwanted items like blankets, toys, books, etc. to places like The Salvation Army. The saying one man’s trash is another’s treasure is true at every level. Yet, when it comes to items you don’t really need, that are just sitting around your house collecting dust or taking up space, they could be put to much better use by those without as many options.

  2. Give Food
    Feeding the homeless is a simple gesture that can undoubtedly impact someone’s life, and nothing says care like a meal. There are a couple ways this can be done. You can take food to those on the streets yourself (check that such is permitted in your area), along with some type of care package like this family did, or you can donate non-perishable goods to a food bank or homeless shelter. Such organizations are always looking for help so they can help the people as many people as possible.

  3. Volunteer
    You could also volunteer at one of these places. Soup kitchens, shelters and food banks are non profit centers which thrive on the help and assistance of others. Lending a hand, especially before and during the holiday when a lot of these places are busiest, can provide some much needed relief and even a little boost in your own mood, as volunteering makes you happier and more at ease.

  4. Create A Job
    A lot homeless people want to work but don’t have any opportunities to do so. If you have the means as a small business owner (or even a homeowner), provide some work opportunity which allows a man or woman in need to earn wages. The task can be as simple as mowing the lawn or shoveling, or as complex as learning a trade or performing clerical duties. Don’t take advantage of the person’s help, rather empower them to do the work, which can be dignifying, and pay them fairly.

  5. Give Money
    In addition to everything listed above, you could also make a monetary contribution to the homeless individual(s) or to an organization which helps homeless people. For large donations, the latter may be the best option, as it provides more assurance that the money will be used optimally, and it’s better for your own records.