No longer a problem just in big cities, homelessness has permeated our nation’s culture and the very fabric of our society. And with winter upon us, the homeless community and shelters can use all the help they can get. If you can’t give in that way, consider volunteering for an organization that serves those in need or support businesses that give to the homeless community.
At Vontélle Eyewear, we’ve partnered with our local homeless shelter Win NYC (Women in Need). Every pair of sunglasses, eyeglasses and T- Shirts we sell helps us to provide free eye exams and glasses to the homeless community. Vontélle Eyewear is the first female African American owned and operated eyewear company to offer ethnic and cultural patterns that speak boldly to, and honor, our African, Latinx, and Caribbean heritages. Our patterns use many textiles and designs from highly identifiable, recognizable and respected materials like mud cloth and kente cloth. These designs are tailored to empower humanity to see the world through a cultural and global lens. At Vontélle, our mission is to address vision health disparities in deserving communities of color. Check out our selection at www.vontelle.com.
It goes without saying that money is at the top of everyone’s wish list, but if your finances preclude you from giving in that way, or you’re just uncomfortable not knowing where that money will be spent, here is a list of items desperately needed this time of year.
Socks – The number one request in homeless shelters is for socks. Not cheap socks, but durable socks. Most homeless people rarely take their shoes off and walk everywhere. Additionally, there aren’t always laundry facilities nearby. Any care kit that you give should include them, if possible.
Blankets, Hoodies, Winter Coats, and Gloves – Snow is beautiful to look at this time of year but imagine sleeping in it. Think warm, cozy blankets that aren’t too bulky or heavy. Warm hoodies, winter coats and gloves can save a life when temps take a plummet.
Personal hygiene items – Hygiene is one of the biggest hurdles for a homeless person’s ability to connect with others, including potential employers. Poor hygiene is also a significant cause of health problems in the homeless community. Shelters are always in need of shampoo, soap, shaving supplies, tampons, and feminine pads. Travel-size products allow individuals to carry these supplies in their own bags, as well. Diapers, formula, wipes are always in short supply.
Gift cards and transportation passes – Prepaid debit cards or gift cards can empower homeless individuals in many ways. If they have families, gift cards are a meaningful gift and allow them the freedom to use the money as they see fit. Transportation funds allow them to overcome one of the major barriers to their upward mobility, and to warm up on a cold night. Gift cards to fast food chains are also always appreciated.
Food – Handing someone something to eat, even something small, can help them right now. And not every restaurant or business serves or welcomes unsheltered people, so bringing food directly to them can help them avert that obstacle altogether. Consider volunteering with a food-sharing program. Consult with your local shelter directly if you’d like to donate grocery items and they can tell you what is needed most.
Pet food – For many individuals experiencing homelessness, pets are literal lifesavers. The sense of stability, companionship, and connection that dogs and other animals provide to their unsheltered owners simply can’t be overstated. Pet food donations are always welcomed.
Rain gear – When you’re at the mercy of the elements, even light rain can create severe discomfort or even damage personal valuables. From umbrellas to boots to tarps, no rainproof gear will be unappreciated if offered.