People frequently ask me how they can help the homeless. There are millions of ways to help! Here are just a few…
- Post in your church bulletin, on community bulletin boards, on Craigslist, etc, asking for room and board of a homeless person, house or other work in exchange for rent until the person has income.
- Offer resume help. Look it over and give suggestions or help design a new one. Everyone is qualified to do this–it could be your own resume next.
- If you are spiritual, offer to say prayer. Saying prayer on the spot can even do wonders for a person’s attitude!
- Give clothing, shoes, and accessories needed for job interviews.
- Buy the person a phone card to put minutes on their cell phone, if they have one. Offer your own cell phone to make a phone call. Tell the person about GOOG-411–a free phone directory service by Google, by simply calling 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411).
- Help the person set up a free email account online and teach how to use it.
- Help the person sign up and use job sites such as Hot Jobs.
- Assure the person is warm/cool enough during the day and at night according to climate. Long underwear is always a hit in winter months in colder climates!!! Check for a hat, scarf, and gloves. Also wool and warm socks! Hand warmer packets are good, but remind people that they can burn (especially people who have nerve damage). Ask if they have a warm enough sleeping bag and blankets. In warmer months, ask if they would like shorts, or for women perhaps skirts and casual dresses.
- Give camping essentials like a tarp to put on the ground to protect from dirt and moisture; a flashlight; batteries; eating utensil; 1-man tents or a large tarp with pegs to hold in the ground; a mini kerosene cooking stove (there are some that are single-use).
- Give transit tickets for getting to appointments, social services, or soup kitchens.
- Offer help getting laundry done. Give them supplies. Some laundromats offer their own debit card that the machines use instead of coins.
- Offer non-perishable food like peanut butter (tip: Goober’s brand is peanut butter and jelly and needs no refrigeration), granola and cereal bars, canned goods, potato chips and “shoestrings”, juice and milk boxes or small bottles, water bottles, powdered drink mixes, fruit rolls, foil-packaged meat and other food products, kipper snacks, beef jerky. Ask if there is access to a microwave so you may buy microwave-ready foods, including everybody’s favorite, popcorn. Ask about food allergies or dietary restrictions before you buy!
- Ask about health needs. For medication assistance, refer to programs for help and info like PatientAssistance.com, Partnership for Prescription Assistance, Rx Assist, Medicare Pharmaceutical Assistance Program, Rx Hope, National Conference of State Legislatures State Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs. Ask if the person has blood pressure and heart problems if they could use an automatic blood pressure monitor, diabetes supplies, or other health needs. Also think to ask if the person has a special diet or nutrition needs, including vitamins.
- Give store gift cards and certificates. Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and other retail–even mall type stores like Kohls or Penneys would make a nice treat. Grocery, restaurant and coffee shop gift cards are also very good. If the person has a car, or gets rides from someone with a car, offer a gas card.
I hope these suggestions help. I will try to add more from time to time and add these to my site. I will also try to make list of pharmaceutical companies who have prescription assistance programs, as I am also in that need right now! Please feel free to comment to this post, email me, or send me a tweet on Twitter if you have any other suggestions, questions or comments.