People are often hesitant to give homeless people money due to misconceptions about why they may be homeless. Naturally, people tend to think that if someone is homeless, that person did something to get there.
However, “the vast majority of (people) have been thrust into homelessness by a life altering event or series of events that were unexpected and unplanned for,” according to the Home Aid America article, “Top causes of homelessness in America.”
Homelessness can be caused by the loss of loved ones, job loss or relationship problems, according to the Home Aid article.
Thus, despite popular beliefs that homeless people are all drug addicts or alcoholics, many people are experiencing traumatic changes that they had little-to-no control over.
Because of this, when people are deciding if they should help a homeless person, they should try to suspend their biases and personal opinions about how that person became homeless.
Additionally, giving homeless people money is not the only way to help them. People can help the homeless individually or on a larger scale.
For example, on a larger scale, people can help by “volunteering (their) time to work directly with people experiencing homelessness,” according to the National Coalition for the Homeless article, “How you can help end homelessness.”
The article lists volunteer ideas such as working at a shelter, helping to build shelters, working with children or providing job training or assistance.
Additionally, people can donate material goods on a small or large scale. On a larger scale, donating clothes, books, food, water or hygiene products to shelters is always helpful.
Some people across the U.S. have begun making “survival kits” and handing them out to help homeless people.
The homeless survival kits include things like, “toiletries, basic hygiene, food, hydration products, things to keep warm and things to keep dry,” Tom Bagamane, founder and chairman of Los Angeles-based nonprofit The Giving Spirit, said in the Los Angeles Times article, “Formerly homeless, he now delivers ‘survival kits’ to those on streets” by Sarah Hashim-Waris.
These kits help individuals survive on the streets with just the contents inside, according to the article.
These survival kits can be more than the material goods inside. Survival kits are much more personal and can make a person experiencing homelessness feel like someone cares about them.
Not only are you providing goods that will help them survive, you are providing love and kindness during a painful and possibly shameful time in those people’s life.
I believe these kits could be the small act of kindness people in struggling situations need to encourage them to stay strong and work toward a better life.
At the end of the day, every homeless person deserves help. People should not assume that one homeless person is like the next. Many homeless people have no control over the events that caused them to be in their current situation.
If you are uncomfortable giving homeless people money, then volunteer your time at shelters or donate to shelters. Or if you want to make a more personal impact, make some homeless survival kits and hand those out in cities with homeless people.
Next time you are debating helping a homeless person, put yourself in his or her shoes. Every person deserves a far chance at a great life and by showing a little kindness you could bring someone without a home a little closer to that chance.