We all know that if we don’t change something our lives a little each day that on New Years Eve we’re going to be sitting in the exact same boat as we are now. I want to be kinder in 2017. Me saying I want to be kinder isn’t going to do the trick, but me making an effort and being intentional in changing my habits will. If you want the world to be a better place – you have to do your part in changing it. That’s how you change your reality. You don’t have to move mountains, but you can take the first step. In light of trying to do this I decided to finally make a Homeward Bound Parcel.
Homelessness In America
If you look at homelessness by simply counting people who are homeless in some form (unsheltered, transitional housing or those utilizing an emergency shelter) there are 549,928 affected. Of this total a little over 30,000 are chronically homeless or are part of a chronically homeless family. Over 19,000 are unaccompanied youth and over 9,000 are parenting youth. Over 26,000 are our veterans. You can read more about homelessness and sub populations here. Some struggle with chronic substance abuse, are mentally ill or are victims of domestic violence or suffer from HIV/AIDS and while every person is an individual and you shouldn’t lump people into a group, the commonality is that some don’t have a place to rest their head at night or may be in a state of transition. We may not all be in a position to help, but if we can we should offer a hand up.
How to Help the Homeless in Your Community
There are a wide variety of ways to help the homeless in your community. But I think a great (and manageable) way to start is to donate! If you can donate financially, do that. If you can donate new or used items, do that! What are some common items you could donate?
- clothing (especially heavier clothing during the winter, socks and underwear and professional clothing)
- food (canned or fresh)
- hygiene products
- first aid items
Remember, it is incredibly important to coordinate with your local shelters/soup kitchens/organizations to truly understand what they need so you can make an impact and be effective in touching lives. Not sure what organizations offer services? Be sure to check out this Homeless Shelter Directory to see what exists in your area. If you are in the Las Cruces area and would like to make a monetary donation or donate your time you can donate to the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission or Mesilla Valley Community of Hope.
Another way you can touch a life is through a Homeward Bound Parcel! A Homeward Bound parcel is a bag/pouch full of small items to help make the recipient’s day a little brighter. After doing a lot of research (to nix out the less necessary/useful items) I’ve compiled a list.
What’s In a Homeward Bound Parcel?
There are a wide variety of things that can be included in a Homeward Bound Parcel, and they can be found below in 1 trip to Walmart:
- Band-aid(s) + triple antibiotic ointment – for small first aid fixes (you can also get antibacterial band-aids like I did)
- Dry Shampoo -for freshening up hair (better than traditional shampoo because it doesn’t require water)
- Wet Wipes – for cleaning, (but without the alcohol content of hand sanitizer which can be difficult for those who may be struggling with an addiction) (you would think soap would be valuable, but soap is already available in public bathrooms)
- Sunblock (exposure to the elements)
- Chapstick (exposure to the elements)
- Travel Size Toothbrush + Toothpaste (still requires water but is more practical than washing a head of hair)
- Bottled Water – for drinking and small amounts of washing/cleaning
- Apple Sauce (soft for those with teeth that are not in great shape, not as perishable as fresh)
- Tuna (canned item, not perishable, soft)
- Resource Packet – a map sharing the types/locations of services in the general area
- Kind Note – a kind note expressing joy for the recipient
- Summer – It doesn’t matter where you live in the United States, this is when temperatures tend to skyrocket! During the summer make sure to include water (in a reusable water bottle would be even better), and perhaps even a ball cap/hat to keep some of the sun off.
- Winter – When the temperatures drop and you’re out in the elements gloves/mittens are a great barrier, socks and even some pocket sized hand warmers can help make a difference. Any warm clothing would probably be appreciated.
- Women – It’s no secret that women have a “time of the month” and though public restrooms offer toilet paper and some may use fabric, one of the best things you can do is to provide some tampons or pads. You can learn more about this particular issue here.
Delivering a Homeward Bound Parcel
There are two conditions that are very important to be met when delivering homeward bound parcels. The first being that when you give it to the recipient you need to engage with them as a human being first. That means please do not throw something from a vehicle. That’s incredibly demeaning. The second condition would be that you should always utilize the buddy system.
Want to Make a Bigger Impact?
While there are many other ways you can touch lives I would suggest that if you intend to carry your blessing bag(s) in your car/purse so you have access to them while you are out and about that you make more than one at a time. A great way to get others involved is to have a Homeward Bound Parcel making party where everyone brings multiples of an item and then you stuff them. It also helps break up the cost a little bit.
Want some free resources to help you put together a useful homeward bound parcel? Click the box below to get access to a printable checklist, kind note and resource list for the Las Cruces area.
What are some ways you are hoping to change your community in 2017?
Thanks for reading!