People all over the world face adversity, and many of those people deal with poverty. When we think about those in need and what life must look like for those individuals, we must put their best interests at the forefront. This means that if we truly care about what we do to make their lives better, we need to find out what that means for them personally. What people experiencing homelessness really need may not be what we believe they need. It’s essential to keep communication open and make sure we have the right information to choose what to donate to homeless shelters.
Think About the Basics
Understanding different perspectives is everything. This could not be truer than with people in need. If we want to do these individuals a real service, then we should be thinking about the basic needs of survival. We need to be asking ourselves hard questions like, “What does it really mean to survive?” This way, we can better navigate what it truly means to make it—not in the way most of us live but to survive on the essentials. Food, water, and shelter are the top three things that usually come to mind for most people, but there is so much more to consider.
Self-Care Goes the Distance
Medicine is something that many people who work full-time jobs can’t even afford. So, what must that look like for someone who is facing homelessness? The easy answer is that people must do the best they can with what they have. Folks experiencing homelessness must use whatever services are provided to help them.
Basic medical kits and hygiene implements are things that most unhoused individuals can rely on. This is much better than having a serious health problem and not being able to get immediate care for it. Medical kits give people the tools necessary to survive until they can see a medical professional. Emergency care is an option for the homeless, but the timing may not always be the best, so they must know how to take the best care of themselves that they possibly can. You can imagine how difficult basic hygiene must be living outside.
Think Seasonally With Clothing
If you’re donating clothing to homeless shelters, then you’re absolutely doing the right thing, no matter what time of year or what you’re donating. But there are a few things you can do to help those who are unsheltered besides giving away random clothes. If we think about the time of year when we clean out our closets, then we will truly be doing a service for unhoused folks.
For instance, if it’s the middle of summer, then you wouldn’t want to donate winter clothes because it would be too warm for them to wear that time of year. Some things you can donate year round are socks and underwear. Among all items that people experiencing homelessness go without, fresh undergarments are the most necessary to feel clean. It is hard to feel clean when you don’t have amenities like a shower or bathroom. Many individuals do not have appliances and running water, so they can rarely wash their clothes unless they muster up enough change to do it at the local laundromat.
Consider Camping Tactics
If you have ever experienced homelessness or know someone who has, then you know that it’s the equivalent of living out in the wilderness. You have no home address or contact information, so you’re always on the move. With that, you will need some basic skills to stay ready for anything. It may be helpful to think about tactics people use while camping. With this in mind, you can better understand what people may need who are living more basically.
Think about donating items like tarps, seasonal clothing, jackets, campfire elements, tents, and basic cookware that you would use while camping. One can use a cooler or insulated lunch bag for an assortment of things as they can keep food and water warm or cold for extended periods. Consider donating wholesale insulated lunch bags to your local homeless shelter.
Things People Can’t Live Without
We have to remember to put ourselves last to step into the other person’s shoes when thinking about people experiencing hard times. When we think about things we absolutely cannot live without, we aren’t talking about ourselves but everyone. Shoes are one thing that no one can go without. This might be something worth donating. Water bottles can be refilled an infinite number of times, so they’re useful for people without shelter.
Think about every time you’ve been out of town or on a trip somewhere; you bring snacks and drinks to keep yourself going. In most cases, water bottles are plentiful when people go places, so this would be a great idea for something to donate. Hats are also another example of something you can’t live without. If you’re exposed to the sun all day, every day, then a hat will become your best friend quickly.
Remember the Climate
Going along with the basic amenities, consider the weather conditions for your area or the area you’re donating to. If it’s a colder region, you might want to donate coats and boots. Likewise, if you live in a hotter climate, you might consider donating things like sunscreen and umbrellas or even sunglasses, shorts, and tank tops. Anything that can beat the heat will be helpful in hot climates.
Access to Food
We all need food to survive, but there is a stark difference between food and healthy food, namely nutrition. Junk food is easy to come by because it’s cheap, which is why so many people suffer from heart disease and diabetes. If you’re thinking about donating food to the local shelter, consider donating fresh vegetables and fruit because produce can go a long way. If the shelter prefers shelf-stable items, make sure to read the ingredients to ensure that you’re donating food that will provide nutrients.
It can be difficult navigating how to choose what to donate to homeless shelters. Therefore, we have provided this list of things to think about before donating. If you put other people’s needs first, you’ll donate the most useful items.