Give Carepacks To The Homeless

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There are so many everyday accessories and toiletries we take for granted - toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant.

Imagine how you would feel if you didn't have access to these small things. Well, many people in your community can't afford these things. By donating even the smallest items to those who don't have them, you'll be providing someone with a greater sense of self-worth. Simple accessories you may take for granted could be greatly appreciated by those who are less fortunate. Maybe your support will open a door that will give that person a change to get a job or give them a fresh start to a new life.

Step It Up

Pack toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, snacks, gloves and warm socks in backpacks and hand them out to the homeless in your city.

Keep It Simple

Donate toiletry items to your local homeless shelter.

Resources

  • GiveBackpacks.org is an organization dedicated to supporting the homeless population in Austin. Visit the organization's website for ideas on what items homeless are often in need of.
  • Visit the Homeless Shelter Directory to find a homeless shelter near you.

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Your Comments

This is a wonderful idea - you can also carry some spare unbrellas in your car to give away. Barbara from Central Florida

We carry gallon jugs of water when we go out as we are in the desert and water is critical for survival. I also keep 5.00 gift cards handy so they can at least get a hot meal when we find someone at the corner. Doc Holly from Las Vegas Nv

Great idea! I often place a little extra in food and sometimes toilet paper in my shopping trolley and give the items to our local homeless shelter, but never think about the other types of toiletries. I also often buy soft toys from charity shops and give those to another homeless organization, to give out with their Christmas hampers for the children. Yet, you've expressed some new ideas to think about. Another idea I think could be face/wash cloths placed in as well. Deb Mc G from Albury, Australia

People are so appreciative of this! I add raincoats in the winter and tarps in the summer. But I think one of the most important things the people appreciate is the acknowledgement that they are people and worthwhile - a smile, hello, etc. And a care package is just a bridge for the acknowledgement. Debbie from Sacramento Ca

We have a local homeless man in our neighborhood and I am going to give him a new large tarp and bungee cords along with some other things like socks and food :) Canadian Halloween from New Westminster Bc

what a great idea!!! will be making one this weekend to donate to someone in need...thank you for inspiring me! Laura from Boston Ma

I had a conversation with a homeless woman near my house. She said what she really wanted, and needed was hand sanitizer. She would dilute it and use it to take a sponge bath using papertowels if available. She said it worked great when soap and water was not available. Umbrellas and raincoats are a great idea. I've also left blankets, and coats with warm socks, gloves in the park on the benches I know the homeless sleep on. They disappear quickly. My homeless friend said that the best coats were those that came down below her knees. The short coats work well for us, but for her situation the long coats were more practical. She also said that she needed clean sheets that had been folded down the middle and sewn together like a 'sleeping bag.' Allowed her to 'line' her blankets and keep from having to wash them so often. It was easier to wash and dry her 'sheet' sleeping bag than all of her bedding. Toilet paper and paper towels were also favorites of hers. I think the best thing to do, rather than just deciding and giving them what YOU think they need is to talk to them and ask what THEY need. Some of the men who hang out in the library when it's cold have expressed they need laundry soap and change. And a place to wash clothes. The commercial coin-op laundry does not allow the homeless to use their facilities. There are a couple churches in the area that allow them in to use their washers/dryers and another laundrymat that will allow them in if they come late at night when customers are not there. Listen. Then help. SZ Sz from Norfolk

We collect these from people to distribute as Hope Totes to the homeless at our 3-course community Easter meal. It's a wonderful take-home treat and always appreciated. After all, who doesn't love breaking into a brand new toothbrush?! Michelle Porter from Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

thanks this is aweosme! Tosh from Dallas

Don't forget women's sanitary products. This is a huge need that is often overlooked. Shelters that serve women are always very grateful to receive them as donations, and they would make a good addition to care packs. Heron from Seattle

My daughter and I made up some Blessing Bags and added to your list above, we added snacks, vienna sausages with pull tab lid, prepackaged plastic ware, wet wipes to use in case they can't find any water to wash with. Also pocket size kleenex tissues and canned peanuts with pull tab. We also made pet blessing bags with a bag or two of dog food, small toy and dog treat. Most of the items we purchased at Dollar General and were priced at $1 apiece. Karen Nance from Yukon, Ok

My husband and I have carried care packs in our cars for the past two years. We include toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, a bottle of water and McDonalds gift card. We're always on the lookout for people on the corners or highway exits that we can bless with this simple gift. Cindi from Grove City, Oh

Today is a day of reflection and I appreciate and give thanks for your wonderful ideas Thank you all Neicie from Arizona

I love this idea Rita from Lisbon

There are a lot of good ideas in these comments. I will put them to good use! So inspiring! Tony from Nicholasville,Ky

We just made up some care packages today to hand out as we are driving & find people standing at the corners.... Toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, soap, dental floss, bottled water, snack bars and cash. i would LOVE to add a simple poem or note if anyone has a good one the'd like to share! Carrie from South Dakota

Well, when I visit a big city, I carry granola bars with me and hand them out to the various homeless people I run across. Maria from Indiana

Im going to start doing kind things to people.I hope all this kindness inspires people to do much more great things. <3 Jenny from Texas

Up here in Minnesota during the cold winters, I carry hand warmers to hand out to folks on the street. They make them to put into their shoes or carry to warm up hands. Vicky from St Paul, Minnesota

Already working on it! We do this through our church every year. As well as collecting things for local pantry all through the year. Rhonda from Indianapolis,In

I live in a small town and I have to say, these comments warm my heart to fullest. God Bless you all. In the town I work at, we don't see many people begging but when I do, I never give them cash but rather a McDonald's GC (I work at a McDonald's). Some people say that people who beg are most likely druggies. You know that may be true... and honestly that is the reason I don't give them cash (I also write a letter saying, God loves you. Please don't ever use drugs. You are worth more in life. Please remember you are always loved.) but they were an innocent child at one point in their lives and the reasons they may be a drug addict may be because they are self-medicating their hurt. My outlook. Homeless people are our Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, etc. And at one point in their lives, someone gave up on them and stopped believing in their worth so they themselves stopped believing. So I pray that whenever you see a person begging. Don't play into stereotypes. They are usually only negative to tell yourself not to be generous. Break the stereotype! No one deserve to go hungry and be without love for one another! Ariel from Wisconsin

Whenever u have an abundance of food or other supplies, give them away to the folks on the street. They love it. Katerina from Cincinnati, Ohio

The amazing thing about money is that it lets people buy what they want without the need for you to guess. As an added bonus to the recipient, it also comes without patronization. Just a heads up that it will be far more appreciated than even the best thought out care packages, strangely, they will know what to do with it. Ally from Vancouver, Bc

I wonder if a printed list of locations and numbers of places that offer services and support would be a good addition to a bag of basic supplies. My friend thought that homeless poeple share that information and that it was not needed but I don't think every homeless person has a network of friends sharing that information. What do yo think? Lynne Singerman from Houston, Tx

I am only 12 but I believe everyone can make a difference so I am going to save up my allowance and money from chores and babysitting and I am going to do this activity on Thanks Giving and also Christmas. Elizabeth from Nc

Bought Coffee and doughnuts for 3 homeless people this morning before coming in to work Robert.Bourgeois from Moncton

I lived in Los Angeles 14yrs..One day I stopped to talk with a homeless woman "Mary" and offered her an apple and a banana and bottle of water and 6 juice boxes she couldn't take the apple, she said it was hard to eat because her teeth were so bad. I've learned from that. It was so sweet to talk with her as so many people ignore the homeless it makes them feel very lonely and one homeless person said to me they start to feel like a ghost. But they are very much a part of our lives and love a smile or a nod. Just think if you were shunned and ignored for days, months or years. Very sad. Diane from Tennessee

I am using up all my random balls of wool and knitting simple scarves and hats to take to the local emergency cold shelter. I think I will continue to do this during the year Wendy from Monroe Wa

Thank you all for your wonderful ideas! :-)) <3 Always Happy 2 Help from Deerfield Beach, Fl

such a great idea! Naye Montana from Nwms

I love all these posts. I have made a list and am going to begin handing out toiletries esp. the toothbrushes and a list of where they can find help. I am also going to include reading glasses from the dollar store as well as places they can log on to the net for jobs etc. Also a small bag of stationary with a spiral notebook and pens (I am a school supply junkie) and a few prestamped envelopes. But I am not telling any friends because they are very down on this kind of thing. I hope these little kits help out! Lauren from Palm Springs, Ca

Thanks for the ideas and the inspiration you all bring to this post. I saw a homeless man with a dog the other day and I can't stop thinking about them. I'd like to start some basic kit that I can easily hand out to a homeless person at freeway exits and it's good to know about the things that are most important to them. Bless you all for your acts of kindness. Ak from Clayton, Ca

I like giving soap, shampoo, a washcloth, toothpaste and toothbrush, a granola bars and some jerky. Do not give money because some will buy drugs. Do not give mouthwash or hand sanitizer because they contain alcohol. We live in a sad world, let's not enable the ones that need help. Let's just help them :) Alice from Utah

I think all of these are great ideas, especially the hand sanitizer when they don't have access to soap and water. I like how many of you ask homeless people what they want before you give. I think that asking them is a very important step in the process of making care packages. I provide them with food, blankets, toiletries, paper towels and water. However, one thing that I have seen on a website is that you should carry a list of nearby homeless shelters, and give them to the homeless. I think that is a great idea. We need to get their hopes and dreams back up, and inspire them to get back on track. I feel blessed to know that so many people like you guys care about this. Let's go help the homeless! Sameer from Pa

In Perth we can purchase a coffee and lunch for someone who is homeless. The owner keep it in tab for the next person who comes in. Like a pay it forward idea. Lots do it and it works well :) Jo from Perth, Australia

I think that the main essentials are Deodrant Hand gell that kills 99.9% of bacteria in seconds Snacks Toothbrush Toothpaste Hairbrush/comb A drink Blanket Sanitry products for women:-):-) Roxy from Exeter

Wonderful Idea, I have been looking into ways like this to get my children involved into blessing others. Khaliha from San Diego, California

Don't give hand sanitizer. Give antibacterial wipes. That way, they can also wipe their faces, arms, etc. without ruining their skin. Sam from Tennessee

I think it's best not to give money or gift cards, as some of our homeless are addicts. If given the chance, they use the money or trade the gift cards for cash to buy drugs or alcohol. It's a known fact. Better to stick with food, toiletries, etc. :-) Ronnie from North Carolina

wind up torches are also a great idea! no batteries required obviously. :) currently making 10 help kits for the homeless in Wales, Cardiff. Alex from Wales

I like to carry bags of dog food and give it out to people who have dogs with them. Amy H. from California

There are a lot of good ideas here. I just recently gave a man some money after eating at a local restaurant. He was sitting up on park bench asleep with a can of Off in his hand to spray himself to keep mosquitos off of him. That really hit home and I felt so sorry for him. I plan to make up a care package and take to him this week. Carey S. from Texas

Hi there. I'm writing from Hawaii, and we have an extreme number of homeless individuals and families here on such a small island. Sometimes homes get taken away. Some people lose so much and it is very hard to get anything back because the cost of living is so high here. Other Cities fly their homeless here so they aren't in their towns, can't come back, and have a better chance of survival. We have tent cities and full shelters. So many are just people trying to get back on their feet. There are so many things to do to help, but if you're that scared of people to not give them hand sanitizer, maybe you should drop your packets that you think are risky to the shelter. So many families don't have anything, and there are so many homeless children it hurts, luckily must schools require uniforms and they can get those for free and not have to worry about being bullied because of their clothes. They're people, and although you see it as enabling or allowing them to have alcohol, you can't judge them because you don't know them. You can give a gift, but don't think you can control what they do with it, and it will never be your fault if they misuse it because that was their choice to do so. Just keep kindness in your heart first, remember anything could happen and it might be you one day needing help. Hailey from Honolulu, Hi

Something I might do is if I see a homeless person I would give them a tent, food, and water. James M Smith from Reedy Wv

We give out Care Kits to the homeless. We save or buy plastic small plastic containers & include first aid kit, sm. mirror, gloves, nutr. bar, comb, toothpaste & brush, sm. hand sanitizer, hand cream, lip balm, etc. etc. Anything t. hey can use. Travel sizes work great! Also my son always has a big pot of soup cooking for the homeless in his shop during the winter & lots of snacks. Also we give out scarves, gloves, hats, etc. during the winter I have been in outreach all of my life & give out lists of caring deeds that people can do that don;t cost much money to those around them that need a bit of encouragement. I love your site too. Thanks. Barb Portland, Ore. Barb Johnson from Portland, Oregon

I'm truly amazed at reading some of these comments. A lot of people saying what they are going to do... Will it actually happen? Actions speak louder than words. And don't be so judgemental to believe that all homeless people are drug addicts. Wonderful ideas here, let's just get out there and do it rather than patting ourselves on the back because we plan to do it one day. Life is too short. If you put it off until tomorrow it may be too late. My Name from New Zealand

inspired. thanks all (: Shawna Sharp from Chino, Ca

GREAT IDEAS! I recently bought a bunch of toiletries and made bags for men and women But, then I thought... if they are homeless, where will they wash up, brush their teeth, etc. I don't have a clue. Help me with this one, please. Today, I called a local homeless shelter and they said to make a list of the shelters to hand out as many people may not know. I really like the idea of giving reading glasses. I couldn't live without them. Laura from Phoenix, Az

Container, buckets to keep items dry, tarps are good any time of the year, keep out of the sun and also stay dry and something to stay off the ground. How about matches or lighters of some sort. I love the idea of dog treats and food. Cat items too. How about books for kids. All kids need a book even if it is just to look at the pictures. Deb from Iowa, North Central

Great ideas. I am filling suitcases with items, great idea to add paper towels. Items I am using umbrellas , sheets, blankets, sleeping bag roll up pads, books, wipes, plastic organizers, large garbage bags, rope, toiletries, candles, towels,clothes, non parish able food. Will drop off in shopping lot where homeless gather. I often drop off extra food. Homeless appreciated. I approach " excuse me mama or sir" the response is they are so surprised. Christine from San Jose, Ca

I've recently been really interested in helping the homeless. One man I see quite often really hits home, his sign says "will work for food" it really got to me so today when I pass him I plan to give him a bookbag I filled with gloves, a poncho, some water, various food and a bag full of quarters I've been saving up. Hannah from Pittsburgh

I always look at their feet. "Will work for food" touches my heart as well but often times people will use these men for cheap manual labor. A warm pair of socks and a pair of work boots (even from a thrift store) may be a good addition for them. Mel from Wichita, Ks

So inspired. There's this one elderly woman I see everyday on my way to school (university) I get so emotional. Tomorrow I'll pass by my local dollar tree and make a care package. I think she will benifit from some tolitaries, rain coat, a new pillow among other things. Arelys from Miami, Fl

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