If you live in or near a big city, chances are you’re fairly accustomed to seeing homeless people. With colder weather already settled in and the holidays coming up, now would be a good time to spend some time putting together care packages for the homeless people in your area who could really use your help. But not everything is going to be useful for them, like gift cards to be used over the internet or jewelry. Here are some better options to pack into care kits for your homeless friends!
It’s very difficult to keep clean living on the street. Fill your packs with things that promote health, wellness, and hygiene, like hand wipes, tissues, toothbrushes and toothpaste, Band-Aids, a small first-aid kit, combs, and nail clippers. However, make sure you keep things like scented soaps or lotions away from any food items you want to pack so that they don’t start to smell and taste like each other. Additionally, try to keep anything alcohol-based out of the kit, like hand sanitizer or mouthwash.
Additionally, consider donating things like tampons and sanitary napkins, which are often not provided at homeless shelters.
Include soft, nutritious snacks like applesauce, pudding, trail mix, or beef jerky, and avoid hard or crunchy things like granola bars or candy. Most homeless people don’t have regular access to a dentist, so softer snacks will usually be preferred over crispy ones. But beef jerky, despite its leathery texture, is a popular item because of how much protein it provides.
Things besides food and toiletries are likely to be appreciated, too. Things like sturdy travel mugs, socks, and mittens could really help someone out. But don’t give cash or used items, as used items can feel insulting. Putting religious literature into the pack is also generally not preferred, though many people do it out of kindness; but for homeless people who receive Bible verses and tracts all the time, it gets old.
When you give your kits to your homeless friends, be kind about it. Don’t be rushed, don’t throw the pack out of a car window, and don’t go alone. Stop and get to know the person you’re trying to help and let them talk to you—if they want to, which they may not. But if you’re prepared to listen, they might tell you their stories.