Having a few care packages to hand out to the homeless is a great way to help out. Here are some suggestions for creating care packages that will be most appreciated by those you want to help, from the folks at TheVeteransSite.com.
Include This: Baby wipes, lip balm, lotion, sunscreen
Not This: Soap, hand sanitizer, mouthwash
A common mistake a lot of well-intentioned people make, is to put smelly soaps and lotions in the same container as food. Unfortunately, this makes everything taste and smell like soap. So, the first tip is to separate toiletries from food items. In fact, leave the soap out all together. Anywhere homeless people have access to showers will have soap they can use as well. Opt instead for baby wipes. Anything including alcohol, such as hand sanitizer and mouthwash, should also be left out.
Include This: Applesauce, pudding cups, trail mix, beef jerky
Not This: Crunchy granola bars, sticky food or candy
The thing to keep in mind when including food, is that our friends living on the street don’t have regular access to dental care, so usually softer snacks are preferred over sticky and crunchy snacks. Strangely enough, however, the most sought after food item is beef jerky. Probably because it contains a ton of long-lasting protein, and fills you up! A variety of snacks to choose from is always nice, and most times they can trade for what they like.
Include This:Travel coffee mugs, gift cards, socks, band aids
Not This:Cash, used items, shampoo, religious literature
When you travel by foot, clean, warm socks are always a welcomed gift! Travel coffee mugs are a great gift too, and will get the recipient a discount on refills. Including used items give the impression that this is your hand-me-down, and that the person who receives it isn’t good enough for a new [pair of socks, coffee cup, fill-in-the-blank]. Including a tract, or a Bible verse may seem like a kind gesture, but ultimately, unless you are going to be there for these people every day, it can seem trite, and unhelpful. Instead, if you are the religious type, take time to get to know the people you are handing out care packages too, and ask if they would feel comfortable praying with you.
Do This: Hand deliver, smile, go in groups, stay and chat
Not This: Throw out of your car, go alone
Aside from all of the physical challenges of getting food and shelter, homeless people are largely ignored and looked down upon. They are people, too! Take time to have a conversation with the people you are giving care packages to. You might be surprised at how similar their story is to your own, and how one misfortune landed them on the street. You will be blessing them more than you know just by giving them the respect and attention they deserve.