Homelessness and Help

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homeless-young-man photo by sampac

Over the weekend, while out and about i was waiting at a stoplight, and there was a homeless man standing on the side of the street with a little sign. Not bothering anyone, not knocking on car windows or anything, just a little sign. Some real “winner” in a fast little car drives by, yelling obscenities at this man. It really made me incredibly sad. This man has gone through some hard times to come to where he is, swallow what pride he had left and ask strangers for charity, and this Joe Nobody yells at him.

The homeless man didn’t do anything to provoke him, nor did he yell at Mr. Speed Demon as he raced away. He just sat there. It got me thinking about how I could help. Granted, I’m not rich, but I do have more than these folks, so why shouldn’t I help out as much as I can? It took forever to find a really good list of things for a “Homeless Care Package,” but this list has some great ideas for your own little gifts.

  • Brown Paper Lunchbags-reusable and biodegradable. Place all your care package items in one and draw or stamp stuff on the front.

  • Granola Bars, Saltines, Ritz, Pretzel Sticks, Peanut Butter – food is a tricky subject. Homeless don’t have fridges to carry stuff around in; so egg salad is a definite no-no. but things that last like dry goods are great.

  • Bottled Water – obvious choice.

  • Jackets – It’s so easy to find most of these items at a thrift store for a reasonable price. In Chicago and back East where it can get ridiculously cold in the winter, put yourself in the shoes of someone who can’t step inside anywhere out of that cold. Fleece does wonders!

  • Good Sneakers or Boots

  • SOCKS! – you’d be surprised how thankful people are for a nice, clean, dry pair of socks. Plus, they’re easier to buy than shoes (one size fits most!!)

  • First Aid Kit – doesn’t have to be elaborate, but ointment, alcohol pads and bandaids should suffice.

  • Handi-wipes and Tissues

  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste/Soap

  • Stationery and Stamps – this is one that I had never thought of before, but it is a truly fantastic idea! you never know who they might be getting a hold of, and a couple of stamps, envelopes and papers could change their world!!

  • Sunglasses/Baseball Cap

  • Gift certificate to thrift store or fast food

  • Bike locks – not the T-bar ones, but the actual chain ones, because they might have other things they want to lock up.

  • T-shirts

  • Batteries/Flashlight

  • Nail Clippers/Deodorant /Hand Towel/Comb

  • Backpack

These things won’t cost you very much money, and they could change someone’s life.

For more information about homelessness, food banks and helpful info, please visit:

Feeding America.

thehomelessguy – one of the best blogs coming from the other side of homelessness. Ken has been living on the streets for almost half his life.

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2 thoughts on “Homelessness and Help

    Violet said:
    June 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    This is a really great idea. However, as the sister of a 48 year old man who is either living under a bridge, in rehab, in a halfway house, begging, sponging off a church, or trying to get me to take care of him,… I am so torn. I know that his real issue is his drug addiction, his alcoholism, and his learned helplessness. My mom was always bailing him out. I have tried to help him many times, including having him live with me, but that is actually dangerous since he consorts with drug dealers and ends up owing them money. They like to “collect what is owed and they use guns”.

    I am also the mom of an active duty naval officer, and I have a heart for homeless vets. I wish I could get a grip on the homeless thing. I have been lied to and deceived so many times.

      pepperedthought responded:
      June 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      I understand the treacherous waters of trusting someone who has burned, hurt and threatened you in the past. I can’t say I have been in your exact situation, but I definitely sympathize. Sometimes the only thing you can do is think about them, hoping they want to get better and change for themselves.

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