Top Homeless Shelter Needs During Summer Months

As temperatures soar during the summer months, homeless shelters face unique challenges in providing for the needs of their residents. While many of us enjoy the summer sunshine, the heat can pose serious health risks and exacerbate existing difficulties for people experiencing homelessness. Let’s explore the top homeless shelter needs during summer months and how you can make a difference through donations and volunteering.

Water and Hydration Supplies

One of the most critical needs during the summer is clean drinking water. Dehydration poses a serious health risk, especially for those exposed to high temperatures for extended periods. Homeless shelters require a steady supply of bottled water or hydration stations to keep their residents properly hydrated. You can help by donating cases of bottled water or contributing to the purchase and maintenance of water dispensers.

Sun Protection

Prolonged exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays can lead to sunburn, skin damage, and even skin cancer. Typically, people experiencing homelessness spend a significant amount of time outdoors, making sun protection a top priority. Shelters need sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and lightweight long-sleeved shirts to help protect residents from the sun's harmful effects. Here are more sun protection items to consider donating:

  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Aloe vera gel or creams
  • After-sun care products
  • UV-protective umbrellas

Cooling Items

When temperatures climb, having cooling items can make a world of difference for people in homeless shelters. Portable fans, cooling towels, and misting devices help individuals regulate their body temperature and find relief from the oppressive heat.

Organize a fundraiser to purchase these cooling items in bulk or ask local businesses to donate them. Every item can help someone experiencing homelessness stay comfortable during the hottest days of summer.

Lightweight Clothing

Heavy clothing is uncomfortable and impractical in the heat. Therefore, homeless shelters need lightweight, breathable clothing during summer months. Items such as T-shirts, shorts, and sandals are in high demand during the summer. Consider donating gently used summer clothing or organizing a clothing drive to collect these essential items from your community.

Shade and Outdoor Protection

While staying indoors is ideal during hot weather, many homeless shelters have limited indoor space. Providing shaded outdoor areas where residents can find respite from the sun is crucial. Canopies, tents, or shade sails can create cool, protected spaces for people to rest and relax. If you have experience with outdoor installations or access to these items, consider donating your time and resources to create shaded areas at your local shelter.

First Aid Supplies

The risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, increases during the summer months. Homeless shelters need well-stocked first aid kits to treat and prevent these conditions. Items like electrolyte packets, bandages, antiseptic wipes, and instant cold packs are essential. You can help by donating these supplies or assembling complete first aid kits for the shelter.

Here’s a quick checklist of everything to include in first aid kits:

  • Three antiseptic wipes
  • Four instant cold packs
  • Two electrolyte packets
  • Two pairs of disposable gloves
  • Three gauze pads
  • One tube of antibiotic ointment
  • Two burn cream packets
  • Three rehydration salts packets (for quick rehydration and electrolyte balance restoration)

Non-Perishable Snacks and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital during the summer, but the heat can make cooking and food preparation challenging. Homeless shelters appreciate donations of non-perishable, easy-to-consume snacks that provide energy without cooking. Granola bars, trail mix, peanut butter, and crackers are excellent options.

When donating food items, remember expiration dates and specific dietary restrictions. For example, you can donate nut-free granola bars to accommodate those with nut allergies. Furthermore, single-serve, shelf-stable, or plant-based milk options benefit nutrition and hydration. Consider donating canned tuna or chicken with easy-open lids for protein sources.

Personal Hygiene Products

High temperatures can make maintaining personal hygiene more challenging, especially for people without easy access to showers and bathroom facilities. As such, homeless shelters have a heightened need for personal hygiene products during the summer months. Items like deodorant, body wipes, foot powder, and moisturizing lotion can help individuals feel fresh and comfortable.

You can purchase homeless care packages to ensure everyone has access to essential items. The best part is that packages come in backpacks and people can use them to carry their belongings, adding an element of practicality to the donation.

Extended Shelter Hours

During the hottest periods of the day, having access to a cool, shaded space can be lifesaving for those experiencing homelessness. Many shelters extend their hours during the summer to provide a sanctuary from the scorching sun and soaring temperatures.

However, these extended hours require additional volunteer support. If you have the time and capacity, consider volunteering at your local shelter during the summer. Your presence can help shelter residents have a safe, cool place to escape the heat.

Health Services and Outreach

The risks of heat-related illnesses increase significantly during the summer, making access to health services and outreach programs critical for homeless populations. Shelters work with local healthcare providers and community organizations to offer on-site clinics, health screenings, and educational workshops.

If you're a healthcare professional, consider volunteering your time and expertise to support these services. You can also support outreach efforts by distributing information about resources, such as cooling centers and hydration stations, to unhoused individuals.

How You Can Make a Difference

Supporting homeless shelters during the summer months is important. Here are some ways you can make a difference:

  1. Donate Items: Review the list of top needs and donate what you can, whether it's bottled water, sunscreen, or lightweight clothing. Every contribution counts.
  2. Volunteer Your Time: Reach out to your local shelter to inquire about volunteer opportunities. From sorting donations to helping with meal services, there are many ways to lend a helping hand.
  3. Spread the Word: Share information about homeless shelter needs on your social media channels. Encourage your friends and family to support facilities.
  4. Organize a Fundraiser: Host a community event to raise funds for your local shelter. The proceeds can go towards purchasing much-needed supplies or supporting extended shelter hours.
  5. Advocate for Change: Engage with your local government representatives and advocate for policies that support homeless individuals and families, particularly during extreme weather conditions.

By donating essential items, volunteering our time, and spreading awareness, we can ensure that homeless shelters have the resources they need to care for and protect their residents. Let us unite as a community and show our support for those who are most vulnerable during this challenging time. Together, we can make a difference by helping people experiencing homelessness beat the heat this summer.