Regardless of your religious beliefs, Christmas is a difficult time of year to be homeless. In the Northern Hemisphere, it's during the coldest time of the year. Also, many homeless people have experienced some sort of family tragedy, and the holidays can be a painful time for those memories to resurface. There are many ways for the rest of us to reach out a helping hand to the neediest during Yuletide.
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Organise a coat and blanket drive in your neighbourhood. Distribute flyers to the homes in your area indicating that you'll be coming by to pick up old coats and blankets on a particular date a week or two in the future, and then drive around and pick them up on that day. If your church or other organisation is already conducting a similar drive, get the word out in your area and volunteer to pick up donations.
Get a group together and serve meals at a homeless shelter on a day right around Christmas. Christmas Day itself is a particularly popular day for groups of volunteers, but the days before and after can be quite sparse as volunteers go. Keep that holiday spirit going a few days longer by spreading out the holiday cheer. Have your group make simple cards to hand out to all of the homeless guests who come to eat.
Donate money to a homeless shelter or food bank in your community during the month of December. Not only is it a great opportunity for a year-end tax deduction, but December is the most popular month for donations, and charities budget for a large bump in revenues at the end of each year. Help make sure that your local charities serving the poor get the resources they need to keep serving each client.
Tips and warnings
- The Union Gospel Mission is a nationwide organisation helping the homeless, but its websites are for local shelters. Your community likely is served by a Union Gospel Mission as well.
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