Recently, I have been driving into Los Angeles a few times a month for work. When I am driving through Beverly Hills (ooh la la) or Downtown Los Angeles, I see several homeless people standing near the embankment before the freeway entrance asking for help. Since I am notorious for never carrying cash on me, I always feel bad that I don’t have anything to give them. I have spoken with my daughter about how we don’t know what they have had to face or overcome in their lives, so it is best to help them whenever we can. She is so sweet and seems to understand the concept of giving back as she will always ask me to give a dollar or two to the folks who sit outside our local grocery store asking for donations.
A study done by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty states that approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2007). The United States government acknowledges four categories of people who qualify as legally homeless: (1) those who are currently homeless, (2) those who will become homeless in the imminent future, (3) certain youths and families with children who suffer from home instability caused by a hardship, and (4) those who suffer from home instability caused by domestic violence. (Source: Wikipedia). Many of these individuals and families found themselves homeless due to circumstances out of their control! A friend of mine from high school wrote a very moving post about her homeless experience that shocked many of us who didn’t even know she was in that situation.
How You Can Help!
Make some Care Packages:
Dandelion moms, let’s try to help in any way we can! My daughter and I put together a couple of care packages that I will hand out next time I see some people asking for help. You can add whatever you might have on-hand or ask your local grocery store if they would like to donate some personal care products. Also, next time you stay at a hotel, stock up on these supplies to use in your next care package!
peanut butter crackers
travel size: toothpaste, shampoo, body lotion
optional: cash or gift cards to your local supermarket or coffee shop (Starbucks) would provide them with a warm meal.
Also check with your local homeless shelter and see what their needs are. Opt to include the kids and ask for clothing, new blankets and food donations.
Homeless assistance programs
Organizations like the National Alliance to End Homelessness go to government officials and offices to speak on behalf of the homeless community calling for policy changes or for the creation of policy to help end homelessness. Government agencies respond. The following programs and policies acknowledge the phenomenon of homelessness, provide help to the homeless, and prevent further growth of the homeless population.
Volunteers of America is an agency that believes preventing family homelessness is a critical part of their organization. Through them, transitional housing and emergency shelters are available to those who are in desperate need. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a list of organizations you might want to help! From Habitat for Humanity to Big Brothers, Big Sisters, they have a long list of organizations who are in need of volunteers.
Thanks lovely dandelion moms for helping to spread seeds of kindness out into the world!