There are many ways to help children and families who are homeless. You can do some things by yourself or you can do this as a team with your friends, classmates, school, etc. Listed below are suggestions for how you can help people who are homeless.
Please be sure to check with your local shelter or community organization to understand their needs before you start collecting items!
Collect Toys and Games for Donations: Give gently used toys that you do not use anymore or new toys to a place that could use them. Get your friends to do the same. Bring them to a shelter or community organization, and play with the toys with the other children.
Hold Supply Drives: Food, clothing and coats (new or gently used),
toiletries and diapers, toys and games, books and school supplies, kitchen utensils, and furniture are often in high demand. The lack of clean, well-fitting clothes and shoes causes great hardship beyond exposure to the elements; it hurts one’s self-image and one’s chance to get ahead. Before you start a drive, talk to your local shelter: find out what items they really need. Most have limited storage space and need certain goods at certain times. Please clean all clothing and supplies before you donate them.
Create a Library for a Shelter or Homeless Service Provider: Hold a book drive for new or used books. Find a spot in a shelter where the books can be kept.
Support a Homeless Person or Family: As they move out of a shelter or transitional housing program, assist by contributing household goods, babysitting, and moral support. Create “Good Luck Baskets” with needed supplies for a new home.
Volunteer at a Shelter: Prepare or serve food, wash dishes, sort or distribute clothes. Help with clerical work: answer phones, type, file, sort mail, sign people in. Volunteer after school or on weekends.
Tutor/Read to Homeless Children: It is often difficult for children who are homeless to study in shelters. Help homeless children by reading to them or with them. Help answer their questions with homework.
Host a Holiday Party for Children at a Shelter: Many parents who are homeless are not able to buy holiday gifts for their children. Decorate, and bring treats or gifts to children at a shelter for different holidays. Buying gift cards from a local store, such as Target and Walmart, is a respectful and empowering way to allow parents to buy gifts for their own children.
Help Build or Fix Up Houses or Shelters: Many places could use help with renovation, landscaping and cleaning. Check with your local public housing authority or Habitat for Humanity.
Resources on Volunteering:
To find volunteer opportunities to do as a family in your area, check out these organizations:
VolunteerMatch – strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer, and business leaders committed to civic engagement.
HandsOn Network – The volunteer-focused arm of Points of Light Institute, is the largest volunteer network in the nation.
Growing Givers – a program of Bright Horizons Family Solutions® hat offers ideas for how you can promote empathy and social awareness through your daily interactions and modeling with children and through service opportunities from home or out in the community.
Big Hearted Families – is a collection of resources designed to help your busy family grow big hearts, because raising caring kids makes a difference in our communities today while laying the foundation for tomorrow’s leaders.
Kids Care Clubs, a program of the Points of Light Foundation, develops compassion and the spirit of service and philanthropy in elementary and middle school aged youth. To that end, we provide young people with hands-on volunteer opportunities to help others in their local and global communities.
The Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network engages and mobilizes millions of volunteers who are helping to solve serious social problems in thousands of communities. Through a variety of programs and services, the Foundation encourages people from all walks of life – businesses, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, low-income communities, families, youth, and older adult to volunteer.