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Simple Ways to Help the Homeless in Your Community Today

Apollo at Taco Bell 2015
Practical ways to help the homeless in your community.

How you Can Help the Homeless Today

Edaleen Dairy Lynden, WA

Years ago, on our way to yet another appointment at Seattle Children’s Hospital with Apollo, we stopped at red light. Standing just a few feet away was a disheveled man holding up a cardboard sign. Apollo noticed and asked what the sign said.

Anything helps” I answered.

The light changed and we drove on. After a moment or two of reflection, Apollo’s face lit up.

“When I leave home and get married, I am going to get a piece of cardboard, some tape, and a stick. I am going to write on the cardboard, ‘anything helps.’ Then I will tape the sign to the stick!” 

“Why will you do that?” I asked.

“Because I will be poor when I first get married,” he said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

“Or you could just get a job before you leave home and get married” I suggested.

Apollo ignored that and spent the last three minutes of our drive chanting, “Poor! Anything helps. Poor! Anything helps!” 

Clearly, the boy was inspired.

While this funny incident (and another one called, Poor with a Car) are an amusing part of Apollo’s story, there is nothing amusing about homelessness.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Apollo: this is eight.
Adding in this picture because when my older brother saw it, he said it made him want to donate to my kids…

God Tells Us to Help the Homeless

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found James chapter two.

James 2:14-17

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

God makes it clear. We are to help people with their physical needs. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and take care of widows and orphans. I know how easy it is to be overwhelmed by the needs around us, especially when we are struggling to pay our own bills. We can’t all donate hundreds or thousands of dollars, but we can all make small gestures to those around us.

In the past, on trips to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Apollo had watched as I gave a bag of granola bars (packed as as snack for our long day) to a homless man at the very same intersection as the “poor, anything helps!” story. I imagine that fueled his career aspirations of declaring “anything helps”.

As the homeless crisis rages through our own city, we have been assembling “blessing bags” for those in our community. These consist of a simple ziplock bag (to keep everything dry) and a few needed items.

Items to Include When Helping the Homeless

Many people are surprised to learn that the number one item asked for at homeless shelters is socks. What an easy way to give. These can be easily purchased on sale or even in bulk on Amazon!

Below are many more items listed that are great to include in any blessing bags you assemble.

Ideas for what to put in blessing bags to help the homeless.

Gloves, hats, Wool Socks, Cotton Socks (the number one request from homesless shelters) call all be purchased in bulk from Amazon! Imagine how easy it would be to buy a pack and deliver to your local homeless shelter, or to keep them in your car to hand out.

Hotel Samples I hate clutter and generally don’t bring these home. Last time Chuck and I went away, I grabbed them specifically to add to our supply bags. 

Backpacks, fleece blankets, hand warmers, basic first aid supplies, toothbrushes (with covers), $5 or $10 gift cards for fast food resturants near you.

Stable foods that don’t require preparation or plates, bowls, forks, such as protein bars, granola bars, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, flavored water packets,

Consider picking up these items when you see them on sale (post christmas is a great time to pick up Christmas themed socks, fleece blankets, hats, scarfs, etc.)

I have put together an Amazon page where you can order these, and more, products if you are interested.

A simple blessing bag for the homeless.

Portland Rescue Mission has a great list of what to include and Our Father’s Soup Kitchen has a great list of what not to include.

You can download my PDF list here.

Local Outreach Organizations for the Homeless

Every community has both a homeless population and organizations to help. A quick google search should lead you to all the information you need. For my own community, I have left some helpful links below.

Practical Way to Help the Homeless in Your Community

Lighthouse Mission (specific needs list can be found here).

Emergency Shelter Options in Whatcom County

Women’s Shelters in Whatcom County

If you have more ideas of how to help, links, or inspiration, please leave them in the comments!

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