Although soup kitchens and homeless shelters may exist in your area, unfortunately they are often under resourced to support at the level commensurate to the need. To help bridge this gap, here are some essentials you can pull together to lighten their load a bit. Keep some in your car so you’re prepared to offer one at any time.
Sock & Other Necessities
Homeless people spend a great deal of their time on their feet trying to find resources in all kinds of weather. A fresh pair of clean, cushiony socks can feel like heaven on tired, soggy feet. Other items for consideration are underwear and mittens/gloves or plastic ponchos or foil blankets – any light apparel to protect them from the elements.
Add anti-bacterial lotion for when soap and water aren’t available. Include small soap and shampoo. Consider lip balm, toothpaste, toothbrush, washcloth, comb, brush, razor, shaving cream and deodorant. Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizers, anything that contains alcohol.
Snacks & Water
Packets of nuts, crackers, dried fruit, trail mix, granola or breakfast bars, instant noodles or other lightweight, quick snacks are most useful. Also, throw in a couple of bottles of water to bring relief, especially on those hot days.
Just as the items you include in the pack are important, the bag you put them in is equally as essential. Backpacks are a great option, as they are durable and can be securely worn to prevent theft. You may even want to provide a combination lock that can further keep the bag safe.
Last but not least, show encouragement. All the items listed above are helpful, but the most meaningful part is the opportunity to exchange kind words. Your care, empathy and offer of help can be the fuel to help them make it through another day. Take time to learn their name, listen to their story, and offer to pray for them.