When most people think "homeless," they imagine people living either in a shelter or somewhere outdoors. But for countless individuals - many of them children - this is not the case. According to the McKinney-Vento Act of 2001, "homeless" includes not only the above situations, but also people who are living in motels, cars or campgrounds; doubled up with friends or relatives; and many other temporary accommodations.
Some families may find themselves homeless due to job loss, sudden illness, eviction, fire or myriad other reasons, often with little or no notice.
What can YOU do to help? While you may not ultimately be able to change a child's living situation, you CAN help make things a bit more comfortable. You don't need to spend a lot of money, either.
Among the many things that homeless youth may desperately need or want:
- Basic toiletry items, such as toothbrushes/toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hair care items
- Clothing, such as jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, socks, underwear
- Essential school supplies, such as backpacks, notebooks, crayons, pens
- Simple comfort items, such as blankets or teddy bears
Of course, while not absolutely necessary in the strictest sense of the word, items such as books, iPods, handheld video games or small games can also help a child's self-esteem and morale as he or she is displaced or moving from place to place. Items such as gift cards for fast food or the local movie theater are also greatly appreciated.
You can drop off your donations at your local shelter, or school - staff can identify homeless students in need, so you can be assured your items are really making a difference.