It’s a question often asked – what do I do if I see someone who is homeless on the street? What can I do to help the panhandlers asking for money on the corner?
Many people have heard not to give out money because they’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol. Others just don’t know the best way to help, so they do nothing.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking this question, here are some ideas that may help you help the homeless:
Carry Food Gift Cards in Your Car
This is a great way to give a meal to someone who is hungry, especially if you’re weary of giving money out. Buy some gift cards to McDonalds (it doesn’t have to be a lot of money) and keep them in your car and your wallet. When you pass someone on the street or on the road asking for help, you can hand them a card for a warm meal!
Other food-related ideas?
- Carry non-perishable snacks and/or meals with you, like powerbars, trail mix, or tuna pouches
- Pack an extra sandwich or two in your lunch
- Buy someone a meal if you see them outside a restaurant
Don’t forget bottles of water to help them stay hydrated, especially in the heat!
Make Personal Hygiene Kits to Carry With You
Personal hygiene is important to everyone, but especially to those who don’t have a bathroom to wash up in. You can make these kits at home (have the kids join in!) and carry them with you to give out. In a re-sealable bag, include travel-sized items such as:
- A toothbrush and toothpaste
- A comb
- Feminine products for women
Take the Time to Talk
If you have the time, take just a moment to exchange a word with the person you are trying to help. Many homeless are suffering from the isolation and depression that comes with being homeless and on the fringes of society. When you take a moment to talk with them, you can give someone a sense of civility and dignity they most likely don’t often receive. If they’re willing, you can even pray with them and give them some strength that way.
Let them know someone still cares about them.
You can also give them the name, number and address of Joy Junction. If it’s later in the day and you have a phone, you can call Joy Junction on their behalf and alert our Outreach Van to their needs (505-877-6967).
The Power of One
These may be temporary solutions to a bigger problem, but for the recipient it might mean the world. Every little bit helps, and that McDonald’s gift card could be the only thing someone living on the streets eats for that day. Everyone has a story, and everyone needs some help sometimes.
One last idea: share this blog with friends and family and help spread the word!