He is compassionate and filled with gentleness, slow to punish and abundant in mercy, for He knows our frailty and He remembers we are only dust.
- St. Therese of Lisieux
Lead by example — When you show empathy for another human being, it becomes contagious. Help by giving food, bottled water, time, information or whatever you can…and make sure others see you do it.
Find shelter — Do you know where the closest shelter is to you? Do you know how to get there by public transportation? Don’t assume this information is known by everyone. Share it. Especially to someone who needs it.
Stop turning away — There is nothing wrong with giving a smile, or a nod, or even a “hello” to someone who is homeless. Breaking the cycle of non-contact creates a path through social barriers.
Give to Goodwill — Throwing away clothes and shoes is wasteful. Make a connection at Goodwill and schedule a pick-up at your home for useful items.
Volunteer — Yep, the obvious choice. Having trouble making a commitment? Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing doing now in my free time enriching my soul and changing people’s lives?
Can you build? — Look into the Tiny Home movement for homelessness. Think of ways you can use your skills to help this movement as well as promote your own construction business in the process.
Can you write? — Write 10 more ways to help the homeless I haven’t thought of and post it in the comments section. Everyone reading this please share these on social media.
Can you cook? — You can add a ton of value to how meals are prepared at your local shelter. If you are a nutritionist, even better. Your skills are in demand.
Can you design? — Offer your web designs to your local movement which promotes helping the homeless. Most of these sites don’t have the funding needed to hire quality design talent, so offer yours for free and then use it in your portfolio.
Can you program? — See above, but in reference to coding. Here’s another angle: Offer to fix security holes or offer suggestions on how to improve their site load time, site errors, broken links due to bad code, etc.
Can you drive internet traffic? — Offer your advice to improve your local charity website’s SEO ranking. More traffic, more awareness, more funding in the long run.
Are you good at video? — Show me! Post links some short stories in the comments section. Can you tell a story about one person in your area who deserves a better life? Capture it. Share it.
Are you a people person? — Now is your time to shine in your community. Reach out and educate. Don’t be afraid of what people think. Information spread through word-of-mouth in any community is a very powerful thing. You are lucky to have this gift, so use it.
Be a problem solver — Ideas are nothing unless they are either shared or implemented. Have you thought of ways to help someone in your community who might be homeless? Our society needs your ideas so please get them out.
Save your spare change — Using an app like Digit https://digit.co/ to automatically transfer a small amount of money into a separate account. At the end of the year, consider making a donation to a local homeless shelter out of this account.
Give away unused gift bags — Have any gift bags from hotels? You know, the kind with tiny toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap in them? Get them out from under your bathroom sink and give them to someone in need.
Send a well-written letter — Or a well-written email to someone in your community who has influence. Give them 10 ideas on what can be done to help the homeless in your area. Make it very detailed and concise. Don’t let them get away with sending you back a blanket response. Be persistent.
Donate older blankets — If you are constantly buying new blankets every year for winter, replace the older ones and donate them to your local shelter.
Speak compassionately — Try to think of compassionate words to describe the situation instead of negative terms. Speaking compassionately is contagious and will spread throughout the community. Words are more powerful than you think.
Raise money — Learn about your local shelter and learn about their needs to provide a better service. Estimate the cost to get this done then start a fundraiser or a GoFundMe campaign to help.
Give someone a job — Do you own a company which could use some extra labor? A job could sometimes be the turning point in someone’s life. Pay them reasonably and make the tasks simple to start.
Hand out tarps — In bad weather, tarps are needed for shelter. The Harbor Freight http://www.harborfreight.com/ stores have these for only a few dollars each.
Sell your outdated designer clothing — Places like consignment shops, (in Los Angeles: http://www.buffaloexchange.com/) buy your used clothing for cash. Consider making a donation with the money.
Offer to reach out to a family member — Do they have family in the area or out of state who might be unaware of their situation? Offer to Google their names on your phone, give them a call or an email. It might changes someone’s life.
Give food coupons — They clutter your mailbox everyday. Signup for some free food deals online and print out the coupon to give to someone less fortunate.
Add Charity Links — Do you have a website or blog? Add three links to local charities with a brief explanation of each. Place social share buttons below and ask readers to share.
Find common interests — If you speak to a homeless person, find out if they used to belong to any special groups (unions, veterans administrations, local organizations) then reach out to these groups to see if they can offer any assistance or even temporary shelter.
Learn their first name — Use it often and frequently when speaking to them. Use it warmly in front of others.
Offer food to their pets — Often a homeless person will have a pet to help with loneliness. Bring cans of food (no can opener required), treats or other helpful items. Bring an extra bottle of water for the pet.
Offer Bus Pass or Train Tokens — This might make a big difference in someone getting to a safe place for the night or a warm meal.
Offer products for free — Are you a small business owner? Check out Pono Soaps http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/02/pono-soap-help-homeless.html. Get inspired.
Get creative with business concepts — I love the story of 8 West http://www.upworthy.com/a-brilliant-new-effort-is-turning-san-diegos-homeless-youth-into-business-pros Think about the possibilities here.
Teach someone your skills — An expiring example is Del Seymour from San Francisco https://madfrisco.com/a-veterans-fight-against-homelessness-in-san-francisco-967668fb70dd#.ovx0sxsft
Educate on the location of local services — Here’s a resource, by State: (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/directories/directory_local.pdf)
**Use Google — https://www.google.com/#q=homeless%20programs%20near%20me
Start a Pledge Campaign — Ask local businesses to participate in “The Pledge” http://q13fox.com/2016/08/29/local-businesses-asked-to-take-the-pledge-to-help-seattles-homeless/
Local Starbucks — Starbucks donates all past-date coffee and pastries to local homeless shelters, and many of their partners (employees) volunteer at their local facilities. Here is more information on how to get involved: http://duvora.com/giving-back/Starbucks-Community-Service-Programs.pdf
Local CVS Pharmacy — After reaching out to CVS Pharmacy via email, they replied with this list of programs they offer which benefit homelessness and other charities. Here is more information on how to get involved: http://duvora.com/giving-back/CVS-Charitable-Gift-Programs.pdf
Share a picture or video — Share an inspiring picture, slogan or video on social media showing compassion for someone who is homeless. Ask your friends to share. Start a contest to receive a number of “likes” or shares.
Swap your profile picture — Swap out your Facebook profile picture for 24-hours to something inspiring, or compassionate. Could even be a portrait of someone who is homeless. Engage with people who show interest.
YouthBuild — Start a YouthBuild program https://www.youthbuild.org/ in your area or get involved in an existing one. YouthBuild is a great resource to break the cycle of homelessness early.
LampCommunity — If you’re local to the Los Angeles area, get involved: http://www.lampcommunity.org/
L.A. Mission — Also local to Los Angeles, you can help out by volunteering as a mentor, provide legal assistance or teach life skills: http://www.losangelesmission.org
Donate old computer — Many shelters are in dire need of computers, which help not only staff operations, but can also help a less-fortunate person learn vital job skills.
Homeless Veteran Burial Program — Get involved in programs which work with local medical examiners, hospitals and local VA offices which ensure that veterans receive proper burials with military honors. Here is one national program: http://www.dignitymemorial.com/en-us/veterans/homeless-burial.page
Assemble a “Care Pack” — Here’s a great story, as well as how to put together a Care Pack with essential items. http://www.upworthy.com/ive-often-wondered-how-i-can-personally-help-homeless-people-i-just-found-a-great-idea
World Homeless Day — Did you know that there is a World Homeless Day; a day of awareness on the 10th of October every year? Set a reminder on your phone/calendar and post something inspirational on social media. http://www.worldhomelessday.org/
Hand Up — This app donates directly to the person in need who is verified through a local non-profit agency. Build a campaign around an individual in your community. https://handup.org/
Contact Lists — Make a list of phone numbers and addresses to organizations which help the homeless in your area. Print off these lists onto index cards and hand them to someone in need.
Pray — Your prayers are positive energy which flow through the universe and connect with other human beings. Keep gratitude and compassion in your heart and great things will happen.