I think it safe to say that my post about gift bags for the homeless has been the most popular thing I’ve ever written. I’m glad so many people have taken this idea to heart. Here it is again, as originally posted back in 2002.
So, you ask yourself, “Self, what can I do? How can I help homeless people, even though I don’t have much?”Well, there IS something you can do. There are many things that homeless people usually do without, which sometimes seem insignificant, that homeless would be very happy to receive.
This is a project you can do rather inexpensively – and you can make this a project to do with friends, or your Church group, and share the expense – and you can include people of all age groups.
Get some paper lunch bags and fill them with little goodies. This is just a list of things I can think of, that everyone on the streets would need and appreciate. You might have your own good ideas too. — “travel size” tooth paste and tooth brush and deodorant. A pair of new or clean socks (it’s hard to keep feet healthy on the street) nail clippers, a comb, a bar of soap, gloves when it’s cold out, a disposable razor, etc. Then add something special, like little Halloween size candies, a personal note that says “I care”. You could even decorate the bags with drawings of happy faces and hearts – yeah, even mean ol’ grumpy homeless guys like that kind of stuff – even if they don’t admit it.
Once you have your care packages together, take them to where homeless people hang out – wherever it’s safe for you too. If you aren’t a proper adult, bring along proper adult supervision. And personally hand out the packages. Just try to plan to have enough for each homeless person.
Now it does happen sometimes, when you do this, that a street person will then ask you for something you don’t have, or you are uncomfortable with giving. Just tell them that the packages are all you have right now, and that you’re sorry you can’t help more. Sometimes they will try to make you feel guilty so they can get more out of you. Be polite but firm. If you set, and hold to your limits, they will respect you for it. This is a great way of giving. I have received such packages myself – they’ve always been a blessing.