Most people associate winter with Christmas gatherings and cozy nights at home with loved ones. While this is a reality for most people, millions of homeless people spend the long, brutal nights of the winter on the streets. In the wintertime, the homeless face obstacles other than extreme cold. Studies show that many homeless people feel even more alienated as they watch the rest of the world pass them by during the holiday season. Here are some things that the average person can do to make things better for the homeless population during the winter.
Donating food to homeless shelters is one of the easiest ways to help people living on the streets. Shelters everywhere are always looking for donations of canned food and other non-perishable items, such as noodles and bread. Shelters also accept leftover food. Organizations like Rescuing Leftover Cuisine regularly distribute leftovers from restaurants and catered events to shelters and food pantries.
Donate Clothing Items
Another way to help the homeless is to donate warm clothes to shelters. Although it might seem natural to throw out outdated coats and jackets, homeless people will gladly accept any type of apparel even if it is out of the current fashion sense. Shelters also regularly ask for donations of socks and blankets in the winter months.
Organize a Charity Drive
Organizing a charity drive is another way to help the homeless. Charity drives can include anyone, from co-workers, church groups, and even friends on social media. When organizing a charity drive, it is important to remember that local shelters might have different needs. While drives mostly collect items like toys and food, it is beneficial to contact shelters in the area to determine what items can make the biggest impact at the current moment.
Purchase Items from Philanthropic Businesses
Another easy way to assist the homeless is to shop at philanthropic organizations. These organizations donate a portion of their profits directly to shelters and other charitable organizations. A simple way to purchase items from a philanthropic business is to shop online using Amazon Smile.
Seek Help from Local Organizations
If a homeless person is in serious distress, it is important to contact local services to assist the individual in getting the necessary help. Contacting 311 is the simplest way of getting in contact with local organizations that can help the homeless on cold nights. Many areas even have organizations that assist specific groups, such as runaway kids and veterans.