How to Help Homeless People (or Free-Sleepers)

Pamela K. made this comment on an older post of mine and I think it’s so useful, it deserves its own post.

Hello. I hope this posting finds you well and still ahead in the *game of life*. As I read this post I see it is several years old now but still very interesting to read. Tell me, have you, did you ever form that foundation you dreamed of forming for the homeless? I ask because I have worked a lot with the homeless community, mostly assisting homeless Veterans. There are several items I have found that they treasure most in receiving. New clean underwear often tops the list. Cans food are not so much but food coupons from the local papers are a welcomed sight. Food gift cards also. Can goods are hard for them to carry about from place to place and to store with getting stolen by others. The the homeless community is a self contained *tribe* they do have a few that will prey upon others, that is why canned goods are often more of a burden than a blessing for some. Tin foil…they love it to have for a number of reasons…hobo-style cooking is huge, it can be used to help insulate from the cold and heat when sleeping. Space blankets are huge too. I have known some who will wear a space blanket poncho-style under a jacket and later use it to wrap up in at night. A rainproof map of the city. Often they have to move from place to place and having a map is a welcome item. Q-Tips, not sure why but they always like having some. Tea bags…most places will allow them hot water to make tea or instant coffee. It doesn’t sound like much but at $1.50 per cup of standard coffee or tea, it adds up. Back packs…if they can wear it they can carry it with them freeing up their hands for other needs. Lastly, a walking stick. A good hard, thick one. Assist when they are walking-asleep and to fend off stray dogs and any people who would seek to do them harm.

Well, there ya have it, a *short list* but ones that most would not think as being special treasured gifts to the homeless community. Keep in mind that they travel as a ultra-lite backpacker would. Anything that weighs them down will be used quickly, stolen soon or ditched for its heavy weight. Keeping that in mind will help you to think of new ways to assist them.

About Maureen, Living in a Van

I'm a free-sleeper living in a van in the prettiest part of the world. I do this partly due to financial circumstances and partly because I love a good adventure.
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