There are so many ways in which you can help the homeless— by donating your time, money, or just by showing that you care. Here are just a few of the things you can do:
- Volunteer. Help out at a local shelter by distributing clothes, serving meals, putting on a puppet show for the kids or answering phones. Build houses with Habitat for Humanity, or volunteer at an agency that helps the homeless (for a directory, visit http://www.nationalhomeless.org/state/).
- Donate. Gather up any clothes, toys, books, household goods, toiletries or computers you’re not using and donate them to your local homeless shelter. You also can donate directly to homeless people. If you don’t want to give money, offer a warm meal, a gift certificate to a fast-food restaurant, a couple of bus tokens, or a bag full of recyclable bottles that can be turned in for cash.
- Advocate. Contact your local representatives and push for new legislation to help the homeless.
- Employ. Hire homeless people at your company. If you’re not in a position to hire anyone, ask your Human Resources manager whether there might be internships or full-time opportunities available.
- Respect. If you do nothing else, be kind. The next time you see a homeless person on the street, don’t just look away. “Most of the despair in being homeless comes from being treated like you don’t exist,” says David Pirtle. “If you see the same guy on the street corner every day, find out his name and talk to him. It might save his life.”