It's not unusual for me to see a homeless person each time I take a trip around town. When I first moved to the city, it was seventy-five kinds of awkward to sit at a stop light with a man holding a cardboard sign right outside my door. It didn't help my guilt any that I had little voices inside my head shouting, "Who is that? Why is he there? What is he doing? Can't you give that man some money?"
Those were my kids.
They keep me honest.
Now that I've been around awhile, I know to not give a homeless person cash; it most likely only funds his addictions. Addictions, I might add, that are not Starbucks and PathWords.
I finally started keeping a stash of granola bars in my van, along with info about the nearest rescue mission taped on top. They're quick to hand out, meet a small need, and soothe my overactive conscience.
Since then, I asked my local rescue mission for ideas of other things that are of use to a homeless man or woman. This is what I was given:
- Toilet Paper
- Toothbrush / toothpaste
- Individual anti-bacterial wipes
- Hand lotion
- Chap stick
- Small New Testament
- Fast food gift certificate
- Granola bars
- Bottle of water
- Shampoo / conditioner
- Razor / shaving cream
- Resource guide (homemade or more official)
- Comb / brush
The idea is to keep these items in your car. Any of the items are useful on their own, or can be assembled into a small care package to be handed out at as well. This type of collection makes a great project for groups of all shapes and sizes to do.
For more tips from around the blogosphere, head over to Rocks in my Dryer.