Homelessness is a significant problem in the United States and on any given night, over half a million individuals may be without a permanent residence. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate as it could affect anyone of us at any time in our lives.

Not every homeless individual struggles with drug addiction or mental health issues, some of the homeless are war veterans while others used to have an affluent lifestyle. It’s important to avoid passing judgment on a homeless person’s situation, especially if you don’t know his or her story.

Ways to Help

If you want to lend a helping hand to the homeless population or do your part to help eliminate homelessness, there are many ways to help from volunteering at your local food shelf or donating to an organization that helps homeless individuals. Another way to show you care and would like to help is by making and distributing care packages to individuals in need.

Making a Useful Care Package

You’ve probably seen similar care packages online, called “Blessings Bags,” and are often distributed by church groups or other religious organizations. You can also purchase a variety of care packages online from sites like Etsy. While there are no specific rules on what to put in a care package, think practically.

Give Money or No Money?

If you do a little research, you will find a lot of opinions on whether or not to include money in the care package. Some worry that the money will be used to purchase alcohol or drugs while others believe it could truly be helpful. Honestly? It’s all up to you and your beliefs. Once you give a care package, it’s not up to you how it’s used; you can only hope it will be used with good intentions.

Food and Drink

When selecting food items for your care package, make sure to include items that are non-perishable and ready to eat. Protein-rich items are better than choosing snacks that are hard to eat (and hard on the teeth) or have “empty” calories. Trail mix and beef jerky are good examples of a suitable snack.

While it may be difficult to transport a hot cup of coffee when you deliver your care packages, why not include a gift card to be used at a coffee shop or a sandwich shop. Make sure the amount you choose includes a full meal or a few cups of coffee and doesn’t require the person to pay a balance.

Hygiene and Toiletries

Toiletries are a great addition to any care package as they can be helpful for daily hygiene or when an individual is preparing for an interview or appointment. Although you may be tempted to include scented soaps and lotions, skip the scented products as they may “overpower” the other items in the bag, such as food.

 

Consider having separate care packages for men and women with specific things for personal needs such as feminine hygiene products. To be on the safe side, avoid products with alcohol like mouthwash or hand sanitizer.

Don’t Rush the Delivery

When you deliver the care packages, don’t be offended if someone refuses your offer; he or she may not need a care package or feel comfortable taking one. Use the opportunity to engage in friendly conversation, but avoid “pushing” any beliefs on the other person and be sensitive to not be overly positive or saying that everything will be “ok.” Be yourself and be genuine.