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Top Ten Ways to Help the Homeless

Thrive DC is working through our Help the Homeless Campaign to increase awareness and raise funds for our programs that work towards ending homelessness and hunger in Washington, DC. There are so many ways to join your voice with other organizations and individuals and get involved in this important mission that it can feel overwhelming.  We’ve put together a list of ten ways you can make a difference today to help you get started:

10. Give A Bag Of Groceries – Load up a bag full of nonperishable groceries, and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn’t have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and make sure to ask what kind of food donations they would like.

9. Give Seasonally Appropriate Clothing – Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good shape, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.

8. Respond with Kindness You can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless in the ways that you respond to them. Rather than ignore or dismiss them, try a kind word and a smile.

7. Give Money – One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.

6. Bring Food – It’s as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.

5. Buy StreetSense – This biweekly newspaper is sold in across Washington, DC and is intended to help the homeless help themselves. For every paper sold your vendor will earn at least 65% of your purchasing donation for basic necessities. What an impact!

4. Develop Lists of Shelters – Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your Yellow Pages.

3. Respect the Homeless as Individuals – Give the homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.

2. Understand Who the Homeless Are – Help dispel the stereotypes about the homeless. Volunteering is a great way to gain some first hand experience and make a difference right away. Learn about the different reasons for homelessness, and remember, every situation is unique.

1. Raise Awareness – Work with a local non-profit organization to make the most impact. Right now you can join us in our Help the Homeless Campaign to make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable community members.

What have you done to make a difference in the life of a person experiencing homelessness in the past? Do you think you’ll try any of these suggestions? Share your ideas with us by commenting or sending an email to emily@thrivedc.org.

*This list was adapted from “35 Ways to Help the Homeless” (www.JustGive.org)

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