Nine Ways You Can Help the Homeless
From: Mother Nature Network
By: Jenn Savedge
If you are one of the lucky ones, the world of a homeless person is completely foreign from your own. But without the support of friends and family, how many of us could survive something such as the loss of a spouse, a debilitating physical illness, or the loss of employment? Many of the people living on the streets today were struck by a personal tragedy and lacked a support system to get help when they needed it. But you can help right now. By giving of your time, money, services or skills, you can make the difference in the life of a homeless person. Here's how:
1. Educate yourself. There are myriad reasons why a person becomes homeless — lack of affordable housing, loss of a job, divorce, illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, et cetera. One of the first steps you can take toward helping the homeless is trying to understand how they got there in the first place.
2. Show some respect. Don't treat a homeless person as if she were invisible. Say, "good morning," when you pass or strike up a conversation on a park bench. Many people experiencing homelessness say that the loss of dignity that accompanies their situation is harder to bear than the actual loss of physical things.
3. Donate. Clothing is a big one here, as are shoes and food. Non-perishable items are always in short supply at food pantries and homeless shelters. Other items that might be needed include blankets, coats, books and small kitchen items, such as cups and utensils. If you are donating to a homeless shelter or another organization that helps the homeless, consider donating office supplies, electronics, appliances, phone cards or other items that might help those who help the homeless. If you see someone who is homeless in winter, offer blankets, food or tarps (if you can't convince them to go to a shelter).