According to the 2020 LAHSA Homelessness Count, Los Angeles County has seen a 12.7% increase in the number of people living on the street since 2019, and this count was conducted before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homelessness services, including St. Vincent de Paul of LA, continue to grow their capacity to assist, but the factors that push people into homelessness have intensified.
With the number of homeless individuals reaching 66,436 in LA County, it is easy to feel so overwhelmed and doubtful that change is possible, but it was Edmund Burke who said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do little.”
Any type of donation, any amount of volunteer work, or any gesture of kindness, no matter how small, can go a long way, especially for the most vulnerable in our communities. Thrifty gestures with good intent to help others can be just as meaningful as a large financial donation. We have a few creative ideas that anyone can try today!
Thrifty Ways to Help End Homelessness
1) Donate unwanted clothing or furniture
Many charity organizations, such as St. Vincent de Paul of Los Angeles, use their thrift stores to fund their homeless shelter and homelessness prevention programs. St. Vincent de Paul also gives away donated items, such as clothing and furniture, to those in need free of cost. They will also pick up your donation for free.
2) Create hygiene kits
There are many everyday items that we might take for granted, such as soap, toothpaste, socks and other toiletries. Individuals who live on the streets might not have access to these necessities. Assemble hygiene kits and donate them to a shelter or keep them in your car in case you pass by a homeless individual while driving.
Items to include in your kit: Travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, body soap, razor, lotion, wet wipes and a pair of socks in a sealable bag.
Pro-tip: Instead of using a plastic bag, seal these items in a cloth bag made from shoelaces and old blankets or large T-shirts!
3) Host a Facebook fundraiser
Share the wealth with others and host a fundraiser on Facebook to benefit the homeless and those in need.
To create a fundraiser for a charitable organization, click here or follow these steps:
- Click Fundraisers in the left menu of your News Feed. You may need to click See More.
- Click Raise Money.
- Select a Nonprofit or Charity.
- Select Vincent de Paul of Los Angeles, choose a cover photo and fill in the fundraiser details.
- Click Create!
4) Prepare sack lunches
Homeless shelters almost always welcome food donations to help feed their homeless residents and visitors. Make sure to ask the shelter first what kinds of food donations they can and cannot accept since different organizations have different services, rules and capacities. The Cardinal Manning Center near LA’s Skid Row is constantly in need of meals to feed the surrounding homeless community. If you would like to donate sack lunches or a meal, please contact center coordinator, Diana Rongavilla at email@example.com or call/text (213) 444-6919. Thank you!
5) Tutor or share your skills
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for homeless children and adults who rely on public workshops and in-person educational settings. Find your local library or an organization that is hosting online workshops where you can share your skills to help tutor children who are falling behind. Para Los Niños in Los Angeles, CA is open to volunteers who are willing to share their time mentoring, tutoring, college application assistance and more. Volunteer with them here!
6) A Friendly Conversation
Many homeless individuals suffer from loneliness. Hayden Lening, one of St. Vincent de Paul’s 2,000 Vincentian Volunteers, has been working with the homeless for 15 years and noticed that “sometimes when clients come to our office, they aren’t looking for food or money. They just want to talk.”
Offering a smile or saying “good morning” to a man or woman on the street may seem like a small gesture, but it might be one of the most meaningful!