November 17, 2014 | OnlineWith approximately 30,000 homeless people on the streets on any given night, homelessness affects more than 200,000 Canadians each year. According to the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, this number excludes the 50,000 from the hidden homeless community, which are those who avoid the homeless-serving system.
Survival on a daily basis is hard as is, let alone Canada’s ruthless winters. This Christmas, find out what you can do to help those in need and make a difference in your community.
A little goes a long way at food banks. Any type of monetary or food donation is always welcome. Here is a quick list to help you get started:
- pasta; fresh or dried
- grain products such as bread, cereal, oatmeal, and crackers
- canned goods such as soup, vegetables, fruit, and meat (tuna, chicken, etc.)
- infant foods and formula
- seasonings and spices
- meat alternatives such as soy products, peanut butter, and lentils
- baking supplies such as flour and baking soda
- dairy products; fresh, canned, or powdered
- personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, etc.
- toilet paper, diapers, etc.
You can also contact your local food bank and contact them to see what items they are running short on or need.
Shelters accept food donations as well as hygiene products. Shelters are also looking for specific items to help them equip the homeless, not only for the winter, but for the long-term as well. Here is a quick list:
- coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and socks
- hygiene products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, razors, feminine hygiene products, etc.
- towels, blankets, and linen
- shorts, pants, and sweaters
- business clothing such as dress shirts, suits, and shoes they can use for interviews
- toys, games, and reading material
- gift cards for food, coffee, supplies, etc.
You can always donate your time and services to the homeless. Teaching new skills or volunteering your professional counsel or services is extremely welcome. If you study education, you can tutor someone or teach them how to read. If you are an artist, you can teach someone how to draw. If you are a barber, you can teach or offer someone a shave or a haircut. The options are endless and will be more than appreciated.
Care packages are great practical items to hand out. In a resealable bag, pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, chapstick, gloves, socks, water, granola bars, crackers, or any other helpful items you can think of. But you don’t have to do this alone. Recruit a local business or check with your school or company and see if you can organize a donation box for these items. After assembly, you can hand them out yourself or bring them to a shelter for distribution.
Food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, churches, and other charitable organizations are always looking for volunteers. Donate food, clothing, or your time to help out this holiday and put a smile on someone’s face.
Holiday Blood Drive
Less than 4% of all eligible Canadians donate blood each year. This December, find a clinic close to you and help save a life. Did you know it takes at least 2 donors to help someone through a bone marrow transplant or go through brain surgery, 8 donors a week for someone going through leukemia, and 50 donors a week for victims of car accidents? Click here to make an appointment or here to find a clinic close to you.