Whether you live in a large city or a rural area you are likely to encounter someone of the homeless population. Whether it is a homeless teen or veteran, a homeless senior, young adult or even a family it can tug on your heartstrings to want to open your wallet and give them a few dollars. Though this may help for a short while there is something even simpler and more beneficial you can do: create mini care packages to give out to the homeless when you encounter them. If you ride the subway every day, walk on main streets frequently or drive in areas that are populated with the homeless it is easy to to hand them a quick care package that you can make for just $10! When you grocery shop or run to the store to grab a quick item think of grabbing an extra water bottle or pair of warm socks to hand out as well — it could be the lifesaver that a homeless person needs at the time. All of these items were found at Walgreens, Walmart, Target or CVS.
Before I start this list I want to make sure that people are safe, so if you decide to go out and give care packages to the homeless make sure you go in a group like a church group, a book club, a family outing or just a few friends. Make it an activity to share with loved ones, and you can pool your money together to create even more care packages. Hand the packages to the homeless directly, do not toss it out your car window or throw it to them when walking by on the street. Put the packages in a clear Ziploc bag, preferably with a list of what the items are so they know exactly what they are getting. Wear a smile! Kindness is your biggest asset, and even if they do not need every single item at the moment or at all the effort you put into helping will be worthwhile. They are human too and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. So without further ado here are 4 easy care packages you can make for the homeless for $10 each:
Package #1-Bare Necessities
Baby wipes ($2.49) It is unnecessary to get soap because most places where the homeless can take a shower will already have soap, and soap can be used to wash hair as well. Baby wipes are a quick and easy way to get clean.
Chapstick Package of 2 ($1.89) Dry lips are the result of cold and dry temperatures, and chapstick on hand can be a lifesaver.
Applesauce ($2.08) Soft foods are a must for the homeless with dental problems, and since most homeless do not have dental care a soft and healthy food that is easily portable is a plus to their diet.
Advil ($2.89) Many suffer from headaches, fever, aches and pains so a bottle of ten tablets of Advil can provide quick relief when needed.
Bottled Water ($1.50) Dehydration is rampant in the homeless community and getting a bottle of water that is refillable is extremely helpful.
Package #2-Safe Travels
2) Travel Lotion ($0.97) Dry hands, feet, elbows and joints can cause pain and discomfort,and having a small bottle of lotion on hand is a great addition to a care package.
Pair of Warm Socks ($4.93) A pair of warm socks is the most crucial thing that the homeless population needs, especially in the winter time and when it is raining. Socks are generally not available at thrift stores and shelters so that is why they are in such high demand. Their feet are their primary mode of travel, so if their feet are soaked, cracked, sore or not properly covered they cannot get to food, shelter or warmth. If you have the money splurge on a nice pair of thermal or wool socks, otherwise a cheaper pair as part of care package will still last them some time before they have to get a new pair.
Chewable Vitamins ($4.99) Adult gummy vitamins really help the immune system of those who cannot always afford healthy food or a meal every day. The vitamins keep them healthy and sustain them longer.
Package #3-Hygiene Is A Must
Band-Aids ($2.00) For those little cuts and scrapes that can often happen when one spends a lot of time outdoors or on public transportation, band-aids can help a little cut not get infected and affect the person with an even worse illness.
Beef Jerky ($3.98) Beef jerky is actually really great because it fills you up with protein, makes you feel full and works for both those who do not have dental problems and those that do. It is a tough food that lasts a long time, and one can either bite into or suck on it to get the nutrients needed.
Feminine Hygiene Products-Pads ($2.89) After socks the other thing that the homeless need more than anything is feminine hygiene products. They are not easily accessible, are not very cheap and people often neglect that a large portion of the homeless population need them. Including these in a care package could be a lifesaver for someone who really needs them.
Travel Deodorant ($0.97) A neutral smelling deodorant can be a great addition to a care package, just make sure to keep toiletries away from food so that the food doesn’t end up smelling or tasting like cleaning products.
Sugar-Free Mints ($0.97) Mints are better than gum because those with dental problems can still suck on them and have a fresh tasting snack in their care package.
Package #4-When You Can’t Sleep At Night
This is actually something that can be very helpful to a homeless person at night, when they are walking or scavenging in the dark or need to find something when they are going to sleep. Headlamps come pretty cheap and do not have the fragility of a dropped flashlight since their hands will be free.
Dried fruit in general is a great source of nutrients, lasts a long time and are easy to munch on on the go.
These are quick and easy because they require no cooking or heating up, they can travel easily and come pre-packaged with a yummy meal.
In addition one can get toothpaste for very cheap as well, and if a homeless person gets to a place where they can spruce up having a toothbrush already on them is a plus.
Travel Tissues ($1.00)
For all those runny noses, cleaning up messes or whatever else the person might need, tissues can be very helpful in multiple situations.
What NOT to put into a care package:
- Mouthwash or hand sanitizer (the alcohol in them would not be ideal for addicts).
- Used Items
- Crunchy granola bars, sticky food or candy (not helpful for those with dental problems).
It would be helpful to include a list of homeless shelters in your care package so that the ones you are helping have the names and addresses of places they can stay and get warmth and food. You can find the homeless shelters in your city and state here.
If you want to donate meals to homeless veterans you can donate here.