Wednesday, September 9, 2015
A Week of Helping to Make the World a Better Place - Helping the Homeless
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where homelessness is rampant. At Christmas we'd always take BART into the city to see the lights and glitter and there were a few times we took paper bags filled with food with us to hand out to the homeless we saw. Some were old, some were young. Some had animals with them. Some had pleas for help written on cardboard and some were just trying to get some rest in the small space they had created for themselves.
It left an impression. My heart still breaks a little when I see a sleeping bag on the street or someone pushing a shopping cart full of their belongings down the road. Here are a few things we can do to help ease the burden of homelessness-
Do a Google search for local shelters to see what they need. The closest one to me has a website complete with a list of things they need, like toys and sanitary supplies, as well as an option for donating money or sponsoring something specific, such as public transportation for a week for a person trying to find a job.
Keep a few items in your car. Last winter I saw a skinny young man- a boy, really, he had to be barely out of high school- begging on a street corner. He had a ragged backpack full of stuff hanging off a bony shoulder and he was shivering with cold. I was just down the street from a TJ Maxx so I ran and bought a sweatshirt. As I was stopped at the light opposite from the boy I saw a man climb out of his truck, take off his sweatshirt, hand it to the boy with some cash, and then drive away.
Ever since then I've kept the sweatshirt in my car, ready to hand out if I see someone who needs it. I've also got a few granola bars and a couple water bottles. And, ever since reading this incredibly thought-provoking blog post, I've started keeping a handful of $5 bills in my car. I recognize that some of the people I have given things to are likely scam artists but that's a risk I'm willing to take in hopes that I'm also occasionally helping someone who is really in need.
Volunteer. Soup kitchens, shelters, Habitat for Humanity, etc. They do the good they do because of volunteers.
If you're local, you can donate bottled water to the homeless to stay hydrated while the heat rages. Visit the city's hydration donation page for info.
Support your local library and needy libraries. Libraries are an incredibly valuable resource for homeless people. They can use the tools there to find a job or gain the skills necessary to find a job in the future!
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