While homelessness has been on a steady increase in many major metropolitan areas for years, the pandemic has caused a jump in numbers in communities both small and large. As people lose their jobs and struggle to pay the bills, many are facing the reality of homelessness for the first time.
As a result, shelters are experiencing an urgent need for donations, as are nonprofits dedicated to helping those who have been displaced. With no end to the pandemic in sight and the houseless numbers on the rise, it can be hard to know how you can make a difference. Often, the best place to start is on the local level.
Homelessness & Unemployment on the Rise
Wherever you live, chances are that the homeless population near you has risen at least somewhat recently. Along with this, unemployment rates continue to be unsteady and with that uncertainty, many shelters have seen a sharp decline in donations.
As discussed above, with the changing demographics of late there are those that are experiencing homelessness for the first time and they need all the help they can get. In the recent past, you may have thought that donated items wouldn’t make a difference, but these days even the smallest donations for homeless shelters can make a huge difference for those that truly need it.
What Shelters Need Right Now
While the shelters themselves can almost always use cash contributions and first aid kit donations, there are certain items that will always be in a high demand at shelters:
Socks – Collecting new pairs of socks, particularly wool socks, to donate can literally save lives. In the colder months, dry socks can help prevent hypothermia and frostbite and even be used to keep their hands a little warmer. When you come across a sale on socks for like 2 for 1, consider putting one aside for your donations for homeless shelters collection.
Bedding – Things like blankets and sleeping bags can give them a much-needed warmth through the night, especially those that are newly homeless. From staying warm to acting as a surface softener for comfort, a good blanket can be their best friend.
School Supplies & Toys – When it comes to the homeless population, children can sometimes be a forgotten demographic. To help those families keep their children from falling behind at school, consider donating school supplies like pencils, rulers, crayons, binders, notebook paper, etc. And of course, toys can help kids have at least a short break from the challenges they are currently facing.
Donations & Taxes
Donations to homeless shelters can be declared as charitable contributions for tax deduction purposes, as physical items are legal tax deductions as well. You simply have the shelter staff complete a form that confirms the value of your donation.
Giving back to those in need is both a worthwhile and noble trait to strive for. This year, consider donating some of the items above and make a difference in someone’s life that truly needs it.