Homelessness has remained a large problem in the United States over the past decade. The past year it is estimated more than 500,000 people have been homelessor seeking shelter in the U.S. During the winter months it is especially difficult for those who do not have a place to call home. They may not be able to see family, enjoy the holidays, or struggle to just stay warm.
This is a time of love and warmth between family and friends but can be a difficult time for those who are unable to have a stable home for different reasons. By giving during the holiday season to those that may be less fortunate than yourself you are helping in tremendous ways. Even the smallest of donations goes a long way in difficult times.
If you and your family members are looking to help during the holiday season, we provide a list of items that are most often needed in shelters.
1. Socks and Warm Clothes
The winter months can be very harsh. Whether you live in a warm state or cold state the nights are always brutal when you are unprepared for the wind whipping and the rain or snow hitting the ground hard. Without proper clothing it is easy to become cold leading to becoming sick. Almost any warm wearables are needed at shelters as these months bring in many more looking for emergency shelter.
Many shelters provide a coat drive throughout the winter months for those who need proper warmth. Whether you have old children’s coats to donate or even your own they can help keep someone else a little warmer. You can also donate gloves, mittens, boots, hats and scarves, and any outerwear that can also be waterproof.
Another item that is necessary are socks and undergarments. It is very difficult for those in a shelter or on the street to find a clean pair of items every day that we find necessary. Donating socks and undergarments is more needed than many often think would be. Another item to donate would be hand warmers. Emitting heat for 8-10 hours can help someone keep them in their pockets, shoes, or gloves for a little extra warmth in the cold air.
2. Blankets, Sheets, and Towels
Giving clothing to the shelters is a great necessity for those going in and out of the shelters, but don’t forget what the shelter needs for all of those people. Sheets, towels, and blankets are in high demand. People are going in and out every day needing a warm place to sleep and a clean towel to shower. Giving the shelter these items allows them to quickly prepare for more people and give more warm items to those that need them.
Check with your local shelter on the size beds they have for sheets to donate, as well as if they have a preference of the size of blanket. Allowing someone the ability to shower in the evening with a warm towel, sleep in a warm room, and crawl into a warm bed is giving more than you know. These are often items we take for granted as having in our homes and in these months, you bring safety and happiness to more than you may know.
3. Personal Care
Personal care items for both men and women are very important. Sometimes showers are not an everyday ability for those without a stable home. By donating personal care items to a shelter they are able to send people with these items when they move out of the shelter. Travel sized items are often wanted in order to be given to each person.
Each shelter will often have their list of specific items they recommend be donated. These items can range depending on the shelter, so be sure to check your local shelter. Here is a small list of items that are often needed:
- Liquid soap
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Shaving Cream
- Baby Wipes
- Reading Glasses
4. Cookware and Snacks
Many shelters ask for simple cookware and snack items to hand out in the mornings or afternoons. Snacks that are easy to hand out such as breakfast bars, protein bars, and other easy snacks are great for donation.
Shelters sometimes also need plastic silverware, cups, and other utensils to have used every day for all meals provided. Ask the staff at a shelter near you what they would need during the year, especially the busy months of winter.
This may seem something that many women may have or pack when they are unable to have a stable home; however, in situations where women are on the run and have children they often leave with the clothes on their back. The main thought is their child or children and safety.
With little money and most of it going to food and shelter donating bras is a great way to help women in need. One national resource, The Bra Recyclers, is a great philanthropic company that has helped donate over a million bras to girls and women in need.
Everyone deserves that moment of relaxation with a book, Netflix, game, song, or movie on DVD. However, when homelessness strikes that relaxation becomes a large luxury that is not easily available. There are many donations for entertainment from the young to old that are great in a shelter.
A small list of items for donation include the following:
- Gift cards to retailers
- iPods or MP3 players
- Journals and Pens
- Art Supplies
- Movie theater gift cards
- Children’s games
- Stuffed Toys
- Prepaid cell phones with talk minutes loaded
Many people do not hope to live life in a shelter or on the street. Having compassion and understanding that while they may not be as fortunate, they are humans with feelings too. Saying hello, offering to purchase a bottle of water, a hot tea or hot chocolate, or even a sandwich goes a long way. Be polite and remember during the holiday season it can be difficult for those struggling and alone to see the happiness we may hold. Even just a smile can brighten someone’s day!