Homelessness is a continuously rising problem, not only in my community, but across the U.S. and the world.
I see them whenever I’m heading into town or bigger cities. I remember living in Phoenix and seeing whole communities living in the overpass or sleeping in bushes, trying to get out of the blistering sun.
According to researchers, there are over 600,000 homeless people in the U.S. Most of these people sleep in short term housing when available, the rest sleep in cars or under bridges, or even unsheltered.
Of these 600,000, a quarter of them are children. Yep. About 140,000 of the homeless in this country are 18 and under. A good portion “unaccompanied.”
57,000 are Veterans, with nearly 5,000 women.
Of all the homeless women, 90% are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse… escaping that abuse is the primary cause for their homelessness.
There are less places for “poor people” to rent. Rent is just too high is some places. This lack of affordable rent means that millions of families spend more than their monthly income on rent.
One in five homeless people suffer from an untreated mental illness. One in five.
Cities across the nation are making it a crime to be homeless. About 24% make it a crime to beg in public, 33% make it illegal to loiter anyplace in the city, 18% make it a crime to sleep anywhere in public in the city, 43% make it illegal to sleep in your car, and 53% make it illegal to sit/lie down in certain public areas. That being said, there is only enough “rental assistance” to help about one out of every four extremely low income families.
While I cannot offer these people/families a place to stay, because honestly.. we’re not the best off either, I can at least help make their lives a bit easier.
During my “holiday planning” I decided that along with our usual Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, and whatnot, we’d do a “12 days of donations,” one for the animal shelter and one for the homeless/womens shelters in our area.
What is this exactly?
Every day, for 12 days (Dec. 1st-12th), we will be adding items to boxes to take to these shelters. Much like the “12 Days of Christmas” except giving instead of receiving.
A lot of items are overlooked when it comes to donations. Most people donate non-perishable and coats. This is GREAT, don’t get me wrong. But what about undergarments? Feminine hygiene products? Books? School supplies?
After a decent amount of research, this is what we’ve come up with.
- Day 1: Female hygiene products (sanitary napkins, tampons, etc.)
- Day 2: Reading glasses
- Day 3: Diapers & wipes
- Day 4: First aid products
- Day 5: School/art supplies ( crayons, paper, coloring book, pencils, etc.)
- Day 6: Socks (lots!)
- Day 7: Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, soap, etc.)
- Day 8: Non-perishable foods & Spices
- Day 9: Undergarments
- Day 10: Toilet paper
- Day 11: Blankets
- Day 12: Winter wear (gloves, scarves, coats)
We will be purchasing items here and there on our shopping trips to fill our boxes and have them ready to be taken to the shelters no later than Dec. 14th, adding items each day.
I know this isn’t a long term solution. Unfortunately, I don’t think the problem will be solved in the immediate future. However, if my donation boxes can help bring some comfort to those in need this winter season, then whatever can be done is never in vain.
We here at BuzzyMoms, encourage you and your family to do the same to help out your community.
Be sure to look to your local shelter for items that are sorely needed in your area, please remember: our donation list is just a guideline.. chances are if you live in Florida, your list will probably look a bit different that here in Michigan.
Currently having difficulties and you need assistance or a place to sleep for the night? Here are a few broad resources:
http://www.crisistextline.org US text 741741 Canada text 686868