Sometimes, we take all we have for granted. A warm meal at the end of the day and a place to rest our heads at night seems normal. For some people, however, these small comforts are big treats.
552,830 people across the country are homeless on a given night. These people often go without food, water, or shelter, sometimes for weeks at a time.
With National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week 2019 (November 16-24) on the way, more people are looking to do their part. Here are seven ways to help the homeless in your community this year.
With these tips, you can make a big difference in a stranger’s life.
1. Donate Resources
One of the most common ways people help the homeless is by making donations. If you can’t make a monetary donation to your local homeless shelter, consider donating resources. Food and clothing can make a big difference in a homeless person’s life.
Feeding an empty stomach or warming a cold body in the winter can lift a person’s spirits.
If you can’t spend money on these items, look around your home. People often have shoes, coats, and blankets they’re no longer using. You might also have non-perishable food items, such as canned or boxed foods.
These are all in high demand at homeless shelters.
For tips on how to help the homeless in your community on a more personal level, consider creating care packages. You can add non-perishable food and hygiene products such as soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. There are also tutorials online if you’re looking for additional inspiration.
Consider keeping a few of these kits in your car. The next time you see someone struggling, you can donate these helpful items yourself. Instead of making donations to a shelter, this allows you to assist on a personal level.
2. Donate Your Time
After donating these vital items to the homeless people in your area, try donating your time. Volunteer to help the cause!
If you have special skills, let your local homeless shelter know. They might benefit from someone with handyman skills. Other shelters might need someone to assist with technical issues.
Are you a public speaker? Drawing attention to homeless community service opportunities in your area can help involve others, too.
Either way, you’re providing a service to people who need it most. As a result, you’re also saving the shelter money better spent on helping the homeless.
There are numerous opportunities to lend a helping hand with daily tasks. The next time you visit your local shelter, ask what they need. You might find you’re perfectly equipped for the task.
Volunteering time is a rewarding experience. It’s also a chance for you to make a hands-on difference.
3. Become an Advocate
To end homelessness, we need to make a change at the local, state, and federal levels. Your advocacy can help inspire positive change to the policies and programs throughout our nation that impact the homeless population.
As an advocate, you’ll work with different people throughout your community. This can include:
- City and/or county officials
- Members of Congress
- Service providers
- The business community
Together, you can develop a strategy to respond to the rising homelessness across our nation.
Advocacy also requires you to change your language and behavior in small ways so other people decide to make a change. Unfortunately, homeless people are seen and treated negatively across the globe. By changing your behavior, you might inspire someone else to make a change as well.
Other ways to advocate include:
- Connecting with coalitions
- Responding to NCH Legislative Alerts regarding homelessness
- Educating political leaders and the media about your concern for the homeless
- Encouraging others to get involved
- Sponsoring a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in your area
- Joining the National Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project
The more you get involved, the more people will start to hear your voice and concerns.
4. Network Nationwide
There are individuals and families who are homeless across the country. You can even view the total number of people experiencing homelessness in your state on this map.
One person can make a difference, but gaining mass support can streamline change.
Network with family and friends throughout the country. Generate awareness and inspire others to help, too. Show people in your circle how to help the homeless in your community by sharing these tips.
Reaching out to people in your network in person or across social media can spread awareness. Then, you can band together to make a change across the nation.
5. Exercise Empathy
While donating time and resources will help homeless shelters in your area, empathy matters, too.
Imagine if you were homeless. How would you feel if the people in your community treated you poorly or considered you dirty? Some people feel devastated and lose their dignity in this situation.
Exploring empathy can help you promote a change for others. The changes you advocate for can then make a big difference in someone else’s life.
6. Stay Informed
Research the root causes of homelessness in your area. Staying informed can help you address the cause of homelessness to make large-scale changes.
Keep up-to-date with policy changes as well.
Then, you can understand the situation, explore new solutions, and determine how to help the homeless in your community.
7. Don’t Give Up
Volunteering is a rewarding experience, but some people find it difficult their first time. Remember, there are plenty of tasks to go around. If collecting donations isn’t for you, try volunteering at a soup kitchen next time.
Don’t give up! Your help and support can make a difference in helping the homeless.
Try different volunteer opportunities to discover which tasks or organization best suits you.
How to Help the Homeless in Your Community: 7 Tips for National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week
Make a difference with these tips on how to help the homeless in your community! Volunteering your time and resources can change someone’s life. Your contribution can help others feel happy and healthy this National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week.
Discover our Patient Resources for patients in the San Francisco Bay area to remain happy and healthy, too.