February 3, 2009

Care Package Items For Homeless Men And Women

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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?"

Oh, wait.

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:

  • Socks
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste
  • Individual anti-bacterial wipes
  • Hand lotion
  • Chap stick
  • Small New Testament
  • Fast food gift certificate
  • Granola bars
  • Bottle of water
  • Soap
  • Shampoo / conditioner
  • Poncho
  • Razor / shaving cream
  • Deodorant
  • Resource guide (homemade or more official)
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • 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.




20 comments:

Deb said...

Fabulous idea! I don't like it that I no longer even notice the homeless people. Think your kids could customize some granola bars for me???

Kirstan said...

There is one homeless in particular that is ALWAYS at an exit ramp begging...a friend of mine suggested gift cards for McD's or some other fast food. She keeps $5.00 gift cards in her car and if she happens upon a homeless with a sign, she gives them a gift card and a quick blessing.

I should do something like that. But I love your suggestions so will start doing that.

Amy said...

Great idea! In my city I never see anyone begging... just a few hitchhikers along the exit ramps to the highway. But when I go into "the big city" I do see them, and have that same guilty feeling, like I should do something, but I know better than to hand out cash.

My WFMW tip about finding coupons outside of the Sunday newspaper is HERE if you'd like to take a peek.

Amy said...

Great idea! In my city I never see anyone begging... just a few hitchhikers along the exit ramps to the highway. But when I go into "the big city" I do see them, and have that same guilty feeling, like I should do something, but I know better than to hand out cash.

My WFMW tip about finding coupons outside of the Sunday newspaper is HERE if you'd like to take a peek.

lisasmith said...

great ideas!!! Nice to meet a fellow namesharer too :)

Alyson, the 3 P's Mama said...

And this is another one of the reasons that you have become one of my heroes...seriously! I really want to be like you when I grow up! What an awesome idea! I will work on putting that into action around here. Thanks for sharing!

Carol said...

An excellent service project with which to involve kids. Or to just do because you care. Much appreciated by the recipients, too, I'll wager.

Great WFMW!

Annikke said...

a friend of mine and each of our families put togehter little carepackages just before Christmas that contained a lot of these similar things. Then we walked downtown and handed them out. It was a neat thing for all of us to do. My 8 year old was so concerned about why certain people don't have beds and "how do they get food to eat?" It was a great learning tool.

Carol said...

Nail clippers, warm hats, big cloth bags, umbrellas and gloves are some more of the things I keep in the van for just such times.
All are a dollar or less and it is nice to know that you can still help some one for so little.

Julie said...

Great idea! I too feel guilty, but know better than to give money. In fact, our local mission ran an article last winter about a homeless man who died drunk, asking "who killed him?" - who gave him the money for booze? (Don't be harsh on the mission - I'm oversimplifying the article by a long shot!)

Lunch sacks with a snack and some of the items you mentioned are a great idea.

And support your local mission. When we get panhandled downtown I can look people in the eye and tell them I support the mission that will HELP YOU.

Raise Them Up said...

Thank you! These are things I can physically do with my kids that will make a small difference.

Great post!

Momma said...

what a great idea!!! we just moved to a city that has more poverty than I have ever been around and this is something that we can do to help! thanks!

Nikki said...

Just read your WFMW post from the Rocks in My Dryer link. I saw a homeless man on the street the other day, which is not at all unusual in Houston. That particluar image, though, has been haunting me. I've kept PB crackers in my car to give out before, but I love your idea of having a whole pack of helpful gifts to give out. I, of course, do not know the story of what made these people homeless, but I feel like I can give them some sort of dignity by looking them in the eye and giving them something that will actually help them, even if only for a short while. I'll include directions to our church which feeds 300 homeless each weekday morning.

Rachel said...

This is a great idea, I'll keep it in mind the next time I'm going to be in the city.

Sisterlisa said...

I adore your heart for the homeless. :O)

from the desk of ....me said...

i love this idea and do something similar. i travel a lot for work and ask everyone with our company to give me their unused tolietries. i then make care packages using sandwich size ziplock bags. i keep a few (5 - 10) in the car and give the rest to a local shelter. i have also started keeping bottled water in the car to give to homeless people.

HMS said...

Wonderful items to bring.

my school is starting a food/toiletry drive for the homeless and i was browsing for ideas of items to include.
thank you for the excellent ideas.
very helpful!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this list! My family and I live in the Portland OR area and there are a LOT of homeless here! I was recently convicted that I should give something to them so I began making my own packages to hand out. The best part is that now, even if I don't have a package to give, I can still at least smile at them and get a smile back! It feels great to do something to help!

Rebecca said...

Great idea to add the care package! I tape on bible verses to them and I also give out travel bibles with them!

David said...

I ran into a woman in Walmart over the weekend who was buying a bunch of flashlights, chapstick, hand warmers, moist wipes, etc. I asked her, and she told me about putting together these kits. I googled it today so I could put together a list of items, and yours is great. One list I found also mentioned putting the items in a backpack, which the homeless person can use in the future as well. Now I wish I would have grabbed all those clearance backpacks at Office Depot that were $3 a month or so ago!