Helping the Homeless: 12 Ways to Really Make a Difference

Published November 9, 2020
Volunteers serving food in cafeteria

Helping the homeless can happen in all kinds of ways. Learn how you can help the homeless by donating, offering aid, and volunteering. Above all, it's important always to be kind when finding ways to help the homeless.

Practical Ways to Help the Homeless

Homelessness is a huge problem in the United States. At any given moment, more than 500,000 people are living in a state of homelessness. The reasons behind their homelessness are vast, including mental health, financial crisis, abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and more. Learn some practical ways to help the homeless.

Educate Yourself

Homelessness comes about for all different types of reasons. Therefore, you need to dispel the stereotypes of homelessness by educating yourself. Learn about homeless individuals in your community. Rather than avoiding them, engage with them as you would any other member in your community. Everyone is human, and homelessness comes with crippling loneliness. A smile and kind word can make someone's day.

Donate Necessities

Everyone always welcomes cash, groceries, and clothes. But think outside of the box when making your donations. Ask what the individual or shelter might need. Consider the time of year, like donating summer clothes in the summer or winter clothes in the winter. Think about personal hygiene products (i.e., toiletries) and personal products (i.e., bras, underwear, and socks).

Consider Holiday Needs

Big gift-giving holidays like Christmas can be somber for a homeless family. Therefore, consider donating gifts around the holidays for families with children. These might include a little toy, electronics, batteries, clothes, and food. Many times, shelters and churches have a list of homeless families in need of Christmas. However, you might provide gifts to the homeless you know around your neighborhood.

Offering Aid

One of the greatest gifts you have to give is helping a homeless person find aid. This can come in many forms like:

  • Helping them to find employment

  • Aiding them in finding a local shelter

  • Recruiting local businesses to organize food and clothing drives.

  • Assisting them in finding government assistance programs

  • Give out gift cards to food and grocery stores.

  • Provide a bus pass or card

However, rather than push aid on a person, make sure it's what they are looking for. Getting to know the person and what they need can point you to the best way to help them.

Homeless male on the street getting hel

Helping the Homeless Through Organizations

Homeless shelters always need help. So, if you're looking for a way to help your local homeless, look no further than the homeless shelter or food bank. They are always in need of help.

Volunteer Your Time

Volunteering your time to help the needy at a local shelter is one of the greatest gifts you can offer. Homeless shelters run on strict budgets and serve a lot of families. So, they need volunteers to serve meals, help with children, and even sign them up for state aid. No matter what skills you have, if you show up to help, they can find a place for you.

Organize an Outing for Children

Children at homeless shelters crave normalcy. Having a simple adventure at a zoo or roller rink can brighten their world. It could even be as simple as taking the children out to a park to play. This can be a treat for both the children and the parents.

Raise Awareness

Local shelters need volunteers and donations to thrive. Help them in these goals by publishing information on your local shelter and the great things they do for the community. You can then hand this out in the community to get more people aware. Even without a flyer, talking to friends and writing about your experiences with the homeless on social media gets the word out.

Recruit Others to Help

Recruit friends, family, and local businesses to help. Talk to your local community center and schools to see how they might be able to donate tutoring, groceries, money, and find volunteers-the more people helping, the better.

How to Help the Homeless Without Money

Money is a big part of helping the homeless to get back on their feet, but it isn't the only thing. Your time is just as important as money when helping someone in need.

Host a Class

Do you have a hobby or skills that could be useful to a homeless person? Consider hosting a class at a local shelter. Teaching someone how to take photographs is a life skill they can use in the future like repairs, child care, or nutrition. It's also a needed distraction from the worries and monotony of life.

Offer Professional Services for Free

Providing services goes beyond just teaching a class, but offering your services. For example, a cosmetologist can offer haircuts to the homeless, while an accountant can do taxes for free. A lawyer can give free legal advice. There is always a way to use your professional skills to help out someone in need.

Tutor Homeless Children

Not having a home means technology and tutoring services are harder to access. Therefore, offering time to give students one-to-one attention for school can make all the difference. It might be as simple as offering tutoring services to your local shelter or letting the local homeless in your neighborhood know you are offering services.

Be Kind

Being kind is free. Say "Hi" and smile when you encounter a homeless person. Educate your children about homelessness and the importance of being kind to everyone. Pack an extra lunch when you are out and about that you can give to someone in need. Find simple ways in your life to share kindness to the less fortunate around you.

How to Help the Homeless

Helping the homeless isn't hard. And there are small ways that you can incorporate it into your daily life, from making an extra sandwich to volunteering at Habitat for Humanity for someone in need. Now get educated about the homeless in your community to figure out how you can best help.

Helping the Homeless: 12 Ways to Really Make a Difference