National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week: Ways to Support Community During the Season of Giving
It’s the season of giving and giving back, and since this week is National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, we’d like to celebrate by illustrating some amazing ideas for you to give back and help out other people. The world could always do with a little more kindness, so why not use today’s blog list as a springboard! One of our favorite things to do as a family is collect food to donate to local pantries, as well as donating gently used clothing that our kids have grown out of at the beginning of each Season change.
What do you do to give back to your communities and help fight hunger and homelessness? Feel free to contribute to the conversation by pitching in your own community-centric, neighborly suggestions in the comments on our social media.
Here are some great ways to inspire others around you, and get you started with thinking in a community service oriented mindset:
Make a donation to a local food bank or host a food drive in your neighborhood. Encourage your friends, neighbours and loved ones to donate non-perishables to your efforts or add to your donation bin. Remember to include shelf-stable specialty goods like allergen friendly ingredients, gluten free food, and even seasonings! These items can help folks in need more than you’d realize, by providing accomodations for specialty diets, salt-free flavorings to those bland canned and box goods, and are items not usually available by non-profit funding. Additionally, consider donating some pet food as well, since every family member deserves to be happy, healthy, and have a full belly.
Create a Little Free Pantry for your home or local park. Stock the free pantry with shelf stable goods, toiletries, hygiene products, and refill it often. This small act of community giving provides easy access to healthy foods and necessities without having to fill out lengthy applications for funding, stand in long lines, or other prohibitive measures.
Do some volunteer work! Donating your time within your local community soup kitchen and/or shelter can do a world of good. Volunteer your cooking prowess at your local soup kitchen to help shop, prepare, organize, and serve meals to those who need it most. Volunteer your construction, carpentry or woodworking skills to building tiny homes, Habitat for Humanity, community rebuilding projects after natural disasters, and other nonprofit housing groups.
Vote in local, state, and federal elections. Exercising your right to vote is a vital part of the process to improve local legislature to ensure public assistance programming, special grants, and local non-profits receive essential funding. Vote for lawmakers and legislature that supports community-based care programs, free and low-cost school lunches, public housing, and affordable medical/psychiatric care programs. Lobby for comfortable accessible seating in public places, accessible shelter structures in public parks, and wide park benches to allow people a safe place to stay when they need it, and remember to vote down any “anti loitering” seating or decor.
Put together some care package bags of allergen-friendly snacks and toiletries. You can drop them off at the local domestic shelter or homeless shelter or you can give them out to people in need as you meet them. You can also include a little card with the names of local assistance organizations or safe shelters in the area. Consider in cold weather months to add hats, mittens, scarves, and thick socks to your packages. Toss in some gift cards to local food stores or ride share services to help the folks sustain their safety and access resources.
Help a “stranger.” There’s lots of ways to give back even if you don’t have the largest social circle. This can look like helping someone load groceries into their car, paying for someone’s meal behind you at the drive through, paying in advance for the coffee of the person in line after you, leave an extra large tip at the next restaurant or bar you visit, leave a “Just because” gift card on someone’s windshield for a few dollars to the store they’re parked at, call the local utility company and pay off someone’s bill, or even donate some brand new books or clothing to a local family shelter.