This post is all about making homeless care packages. These are the BEST things to put in your care kits for the displaced.
Growing up, one of the best lessons that my mother taught me through her actions was how to care for those experiencing homelessness.
A few Saturdays a month, she would put my sister and I in the car, drive to our neighborhood donut shop and buy boxes of donuts. Then, she would drive us to downtown San Diego where we would hand out donuts to those that were homeless.
Now, I’m not gonna lie.
As a young girl, I did not appreciate the rich lesson in humanity that my mom was demonstrating at the time. You want to know what I was most worried about?? My main priority was stealing a donut hole or two in the backseat when she wasn’t looking (lol).
In my older age, I fully appreciate how those Saturday mornings showed me that it was within my ability to care and show compassion to those that are struggling.
I spent last Christmas with my sister who started a new tradition of her own.
She bought some of the items below and we put together a bunch of care packages for the homeless. We then passed some out and kept the leftover bags in the car for anyone else we would encounter in the future.
I am so glad that she did this because I hope to make it a yearly tradition in my own family.
However, the last thing I want to do is to put a bunch of stuff in a bag that makes me feel like I’m doing something good but doesn’t actually meet the needs of the homeless population. So, I have done a lot of research into what those experiencing homelessness actually want.
What care packaging to use:
Many houseless individuals and families get around by walking or by public transportation.
Because of that, you can make these care packages most useful by putting everything in a bag that is: reusable, sturdy, lightweight and with a handle.
(Using a waterproof bag that would protect their stuff against the weather would be even more useful).
Look around- you may have some suitable bags laying around from grocery stores and the like.
If not, you can purchase these bags online in bulk.
What to include in a care package for the homeless
What items do the homeless need most?
The #1 & most important ….
High Quality SOCKS!!
All of the research I did on the most useful items for the homeless said the same thing…… SOCKS.
Socks are the most requested but oftentimes least donated item among the unhoused.
Not only do socks help maintain warmth in cold or rainy weather, a high quality pair of socks can greatly affect quality of life for those with health conditions like diabetes or poor circulation. Since those that are displaced spend a lot of time walking, their socks will get worn out faster. This means they are always in demand.
Before doing this research, I had never donated new socks. I just never thought of it! So, I can certainly see how they would be high in demand.
If you choose to include socks in your homeless care packages, I encourage you to buy the highest quality socks that you are able to afford so that they last longer.
In addition to socks, what else is useful for your homeless care packages?
2 | Feminine Hygiene Products
Imagine being on your cycle and not having the resources to take care of yourself. It would be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Unfortunately, a lot of people (including myself) don’t remember to include feminine products in care kits that are given to the homeless. Next time you are at the store buying some for yourself, grab an extra pack to put in these care packages.
3 | Reusable Water Bottle
Not only are reusable water bottles better for the planet than plastic, it is also more convenient for the recipient because it can be filled up over and over again.
Here is an affordable bulk pack of reusable water bottles you can snag.
4 | Travel Sized Toiletries
In this situation, more is NOT more.
If you are homeless and on the go, it is important to keep your belongings compact and easy to carry.
This means that trial size and travel sized items are more valuable than full sized products.
Keep this in mind when you are including the following items:
- Hand Sanitizer
- Razor + Shaving Cream
- Tissues or Wet Wipes
….You can also buy already-prepared toiletry kits here…
5 | Travel Sized First Aid Kit
Life on the streets is bound to result in a few injuries now and then. It is very valuable to have a supply of at least band aids, antiseptics or bandages for wound treatment.
Here, you can buy a pack of four mini first-aid kits or a pack of 48 here.
6 | Non-Perishable Food Items
Remember that a lot of displaced people may not have access to dental care or they may be elderly. This means that they may struggle with weak teeth.
If you choose to include food/snacks, keep this in mind since nuts and other hard foods may be impossible for them to eat.
7 | Diapers and Wipes
Yet another thing that I have never thought to donate. There are plenty of homeless families with children. To target them, you can include diapers and wipes to help them keep the kids dry and clean.
8 | Personal Note
Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word! I’ve ready so many stories of people being blessed by handwritten letters that were included in gifts they were given.
You can also use this as an opportunity to spread knowledge by including a list of places in your city where services for the homeless are available.
9 | Hand Warmers
In cold environments, single use heat packs (like these HotHands hand warmers) are a great way to warm up when the temperatures drop.
10 | Face Masks
In this day and age, it is difficult for anyone to enter an establishment without a face mask. Extra face masks are a great resource.
Buy a bulk pack of face masks here.
11| Gift Cards / Bus Passes / Money?
Now, I know that giving money or monetary gifts is controversial, but if we are talking about the most useful items to give the homeless, we can’t just skip over the topic. When it comes down to it, each person you come across will have specific needs that will never be met by a standard care package, and that’s okay.
You may consider adding $10 gift cards or perhaps rolls of quarters for laundry to your blessing bags for the homeless.
...proTips & advice...
1 | Make sure to give with dignity. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.
Be respectful and give the people you encounter the option to say yes or no to whatever you are offering. Everyone should be allowed to have preferences.
2 | Every individual has specific needs.
Some people won’t need the things listed above. Some may have allergies or need care packages with dietary restrictions.
If you really really want to meet someones specific needs, ask them “how can I help you today?“
3 | One of the best advice is to think of this as a short term use gift.
You’re meeting their need at the time, not stocking them up like a pantry. Most people experiencing homelessness don’t have storage, so in this case, quality is better than quantity.
What Items are not ideal for your homeless care packages:
- Disposable water bottles – increases waste and doesn’t meet a need for the long term.
Opt for a reusable water bottle
- Used socks or underwear – remember to give items of value. Giving used and stained items is humiliating and not respectful.
- Opened or partially used toiletries – remember to give new toiletries in order to ensure proper sanitation
- Perishable food or heavy cans that require can openers, etc
How to give out your homeless care kits
The awesome thing about making these care packages is that you can make a lot of them and then keep them in your car and home to give them out whenever you see someone in need.
As you can imagine, homeless shelters get many donations around the holidays but remember that people are in need year round.
So, if you can, it is nice to think outside the box and give out these homeless blessing bags at uncommon times of the year like during the summer and after the holidays.
If you find it difficult to find people that are experiencing homelessness on a day to day basis, you can always drop these care packages to a homeless shelter where they will be given to people in need.
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“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”James 2:15-16