Although the rate of homelessness in the United States is declining slightly, there are still more than 500,000 people who were homeless in the United States as of 2015, and a quarter of those people are children. Whether you see homeless people on the street on a daily basis or know someone who has temporarily lost their home due to financial insecurity, you may feel the desire to help the homeless in your area. Besides donating money to your local homeless shelter, there are several ways that you can help your local shelter support the homeless.
Conduct a Home Goods Drive
If you are unable to donate funds, you may want to donate goods that the shelter can use. You should always check with your local shelter to see what type of donations they accept and when they are able to accept them. This helps the shelter workers stay organized and work efficiently.
Many shelters are unable to accept used linen or clothing, but some do. Items that are generally acceptable at most shelters include kits with basic necessities such as cotton swabs, baby wipes, and dental floss as well as new linen. If the shelter helps place people in new homes, they will also likely accept home goods such as kitchenware and furniture.
Offer to Volunteer
One of the most valuable ways you can help is to volunteer your time. There are several tasks that you can probably help with at homeless shelters. You may be able to help with light administrative duties, provide skills training to residents of the shelter, drive people to and from appointments, or simply be a companion to someone at the shelter. If you have a specific skill you are willing to share, you should let your shelter staff know. Otherwise, let them know your schedule and what tasks you are willing to do.
Donate Career-Related Services
Many shelters offer programs that assist homeless people to secure jobs. If you can donate your time to help prepare individuals for interviews by conducting practice interviews or editing resumes, that is helpful. If you are a beautician and can offer free hair cuts, manicures, or makeup tutorials, that can also help an applicant have a successful job interview.
Petition Your Local and State Government for Support
You can also help to reduce homelessness and make sure the rights of the homeless are protected by advocating for governmental awareness and support of the homeless. You should find out what laws currently affect the homeless in your state and advocate for changes that will support organizations like homeless shelters while supplying more access to affordable housing for the homeless in your area.
To begin advocating for governmental change, you should make yourself aware of the problems that homeless people in your area face. You can talk with people who run the shelter as well as listen to the stories and experiences of the people who are using the shelter to get a better idea of the needs of the homeless in your area.
Ask Local Businesses to Support the Shelter
Businesses often look for non-profit organizations to support. Unfortunately, many homeless shelters do not have the time and staff to organize and petition for local donations. If you have contacts with local businesses, you can talk to them about supporting the shelter. Alternatively, ask the shelter workers if you can organize and staff a fundraiser for the shelter.
If you want to help the homeless in your area, there are many ways that you can. Giving money is only one method of helping. Talk to your local homeless shelter for more information and to see how you can help.