1. Be wary of what you’re giving them.
People often try and give soap and shampoos to the homeless to keep up their hygiene, but a lot of shelters already offer these resources. Instead, think about how to stay warm for the winter and stay healthy. Consider offering gloves/hat/scarf, a mug with tea bags, anti-bacterial sanitizer, baby wipes, hand warmers, tissues, gift cards, etc. For a more detailed list, check out this article.
***Pads and Tampons are jackpots for homeless women. These products, though a necessary part of women’s health, are often hard to come by with an expensive price tag.***
2. Keep the care packages in your car.
If you keep some plastic bags with a couple of the items listed above in your car, whenever you see a homeless person on the street, you can really make their day.
3. Feel free to go up and talk to them.
You don’t have to go up alone, but we all have something in common with homeless people. We’re all PEOPLE. Everyone has a story, and you’d be surprised to find out some of the most amazing things these people have struggled with. I recently met a homeless veteran for an article for my high school newspaper, and he was one of the most magnanimous people I’ve ever encountered.
4. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter.
Unfortunately, a lot of homeless people’s diets consists of a lot of canned food and non-perishables, which isn’t exactly the most healthy option. They’re really in need of a hot, fresh meal. Even just some classic spaghetti and meatballs could do wonders for some of these people. And by the way, at a lot of the shelters I’ve volunteered at, they love anything ethnic, so round up the aunties and get those samosas fryin’!
5. Donate to homeless causes that you support.
A lot of people worry that if you give a man on a street cash, they’ll probably just spend it on drugs or cigarettes. While that’s rarely the case, instead you can choose to support legitimate organizations that provide for the homeless. Do some research and find a homeless shelter that strikes a chord with you, and then show them some financial love.
The holidays are a joyous time, and as Americans and as Muslims, it’s our duty to make sure EVERYONE can be merry.