Homelessness may seem like a distant problem that could never affect you personally, but everyday setbacks leave many people without sufficient income or housing. In 2016, an estimated 564,708 people in the United States were homeless on an average night, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. About 15 percent of those experiencing homelessness were people who were chronically displaced, and nearly 40,000 were veterans.
But those who have suffered personal tragedies can successfully transition back to a stable life with the kindness and support of others. Find out which simple acts of generosity could make a big difference in another person’s life.
Volunteer at a Shelter
The homeless often feel invisible to the public. Open your heart to people suffering through a personal crisis by volunteering at shelters, where you can see firsthand that homeless are “normal people” who shouldn’t be judged. Handing out supplies, cooking meals, providing encouragement, and bringing toys or playing with children are small gestures that can make others feel less lonely and more hopeful and supported.
Donate to Food Pantries
Community food banks and pantries collect fresh and canned goods to serve up warm meals at local shelters and soup kitchens. Contact local chapters to find out which foods they need most, and buy extra supplies the next time you run out for groceries.
Donate Money to Homeless Organizations
Donating money, clothing, or toiletries to homeless organizations can ensure that your contributions are used in the most beneficial ways. Outreach coordinators typically advise against giving money directly to homeless individuals. To make an even bigger impact, ask permission to host a collection at school or work to support a local organization.
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