Homeless shelters take all sorts of donations, but they aren’t all equal. Too many people drop off used toys, worn clothes, and other pointless items that shelters can’t use. But the spirit of giving shouldn’t involve only letting go of the things you don’t want—a shelter isn’t your trash can.
Instead, try to find instances where you can sacrifice to provide homeless shelters what they really need right now, usually by buying new. While each shelter is different, there are some common items homeless shelters need the most that you can’t go wrong giving. To learn what these are, read on.
Money is a solid place to start. It provides shelters the flexibility to stock up on whatever items they need. This can be an ever-shifting list, so money enables them to buy precisely what they need, rather than accruing donations they don’t. If you’re time-strapped, this method is also the simplest by far, requiring little time and streamlining your tax deduction process should you choose to itemize. Overall, giving cash is a no-brainer.
Socks & Shoes
Next, make sure your favorite shelter has the means to give guests new socks and shoes. These are often forgettable items, but quality pairs of each can drastically improve the lives of those without a home. Consider if you were in their predicament—your socks and shoes would be your car, your bus, and your subway. You’d wear them frequently and need replacements sooner rather than later. That’s why shelters can never have enough.
Socks are an easier fit, but fixing people up with shoes their size is a bigger challenge. If the shelter accepts them, consider loading them up with gift cards to department stores. The shelter can use these cards towards shoes and whatever else guests need. They may also take the lightly used shoes you already have, but make sure of this before delivering them.
Underwear is another afterthought, but shelters are clamoring for more underwear to give to their patrons. While their importance is evident, you may not consider that long underwear, in particular, is an effective tool for fighting off winter’s cold. It’s amazing how much warmer people feel with one more layer on their lower body. Don’t be shy about donating bulk underwear in all sizes, so anyone who comes in a shelter’s doors has a fresh pair.
One high priority for a homeless shelter is to give everyone who walks through their doors a warm, comfortable night’s sleep, so they can look forward to a better tomorrow. A cozy blanket, donated by you, makes this possible for one more person each night.
Plus, blankets are versatile. When you give one to a resident, it may keep them comfy at night and or give them some privacy, a surface to sit on, or a spot for their pet to rest. There’s no way that a donated blanket would go to waste.
General Hygiene Products
One more piece that adds to the quality of life for someone without a home is hygiene. Without a consistent bathroom, it’s imperative that their stay at a shelter includes a thorough shower and attention to personal hygiene. There are a number of items that help make this happen, including:
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A brush or comb
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Razors and shaving cream
Together, these items equip someone for a head-to-toe hygiene routine that leaves them feeling better and perhaps ready for a job interview. In the long run, staying clean also protects individuals from threatening health issues. Give your local shelter as many of these items as possible, so they have to guess if they have a cleaning product or not.
Feminine Hygiene Items
Narrowing our focus, don’t neglect feminine hygiene products when you donate. Periods are uncomfortable for anyone, but women who lack a consistent roof over their head don’t have the resources to cope with it. This can be embarrassing and inconvenient, especially given all their other concerns. Ensure they have pads, tampons, and other items they could need while they’re staying with a shelter.
Diapers, Wipes, and New Kids’ Clothes
Next on our list of items homeless shelters need the most is children’s items. Consider the kids and donate diapers, baby wipes, and kids’ clothes. When the average person imagines a homeless individual, they likely conjure up a single man. Your perception of homeless people guides what you give, and this idea prevents you from assisting the significant number of families who contact a shelter.
In particular, it’s difficult for people to keep buying new outfits for their kids as they outgrow clothes. Your gift sustains these kids for a while and eases their parents’ worries.
With kids, you’ll also want to enable their studies. Though homelessness introduces many interruptions to learning, if shelters can put pens, pencils, and paper in kids’ hands, students could have some vital educational continuity. Students stay engaged when they have the supplies to participate. Therefore, with the proper tools, children in shelters may also stay in school longer and realize academic goals those around them did not. In all, there’s a lot of hope for kids’ futures if they have organizations like a shelter to offer support. Your donation becomes part of that hope.
First Aid Kits
One unknown obstacle for a shelter is how they’ll address guests’ cuts, bruises, and other injuries. These pile up as people live without a home, and your local shelter is perhaps the only organization that’ll notice them. To equip shelters well to address injuries, make sure they have plenty of first-aid kits. Similar to hygiene items, first-aid supplies prevent guests from developing longer-term health issues, such as an infection.
Though it’s a bit less intuitive, many people who come through a homeless shelter would love some new earbuds. The reason is simple—sleeping in the same room as 30, 40, or 50 other people can be noisy and distracting. Earbuds turn down the volume, at least for the person wearing them. Earbuds afford them a peaceful sleep they may not get often. Plus, they can use them after they leave the shelter as well.
2moda offers a broad range of bulk supplies, many of which fit into one of these ten categories. Beyond this, however, we also supply everything from wholesale makeup tools to kids’ toys. Check with your local homeless shelter and allow their needs to guide what you look for on our site.