What the homeless need most

What the homeless need most 

Most of us need a little help now and then.  Help painting, doing the dishes, with homework, looking after a pet, changing a tire, or maybe with a financial problem.   Very seldom do we fall into a situation that requires help to survive.   You read about people that are stranded on mountains, lost in a wilderness, stuck in a cave, or more commonly, involved in near deadly accidents and need help getting out or getting well.  Thankfully they are still rare occurances.

When it comes to the homeless, needing help is an every day occurrence.  Yet the most often heard phrase is “Get a Job!”.   Some help that is.   This country will spend millions to get someone off a mountain that had been warned of the danger.  We will send dozens of men with heavy equipment to get a horse out of a mud hole and every news outlet will feature it.  We will organize fleets of ships and planes to hunt for a stricken boat with a missing man on the high seas.   

Yet, when it comes to the homeless, other than those who engage in the homeless service industry and the homeless activists among us, there is little or no help when a homeless person is found laying in a doorway near death from freezing, or beaten half to death in an alley where he had been trying to sleep.   Hospitals are even being accused of “dumping” homeless patients on streets near shelters.  I can point you to many notable cases. 

Four homeless men near Must.

(Picture by Oldtimer.)  Can you tell which one was not homeless?

Homeless people need help.  They need our help and they need it almost continuously.   Consider this:  If you have lost a job recently and as a result lost your home, you probably have friends and family to fall back on for much needed help.  You probably have a cell phone and a relationship with a doctor for medical care and probably still have a car.   You are probably not homeless long.

Most homeless have none of those things.  Without a car they are stuck walking and that in turn reduces the range of where they can get help or a job.  Without a phone, they have to rely on stores and the goodness of a clerk to make a call.  When was the last time you saw a payphone?   Many times the homeless can’t even pay to use one if they could find one.

Without a phone and a fixed address, most people could not get a job as those things are at the top of any application.  No way to get a callback for another appointment – opportunity lost.  No fixed address – no job.   Some libraries deny a card to anyone without a fixed address.  No library card, no Internet access.   No clean clothes, poorly nourished, unshaven.  How does that work – get a job indeed!

Tell me friend, when you say “Get a job” how do you do that?

I have a need to work…

But I have no ID,
No phone,
No residence,
No transportation,
No references,
No clean clothes,
No place to wash or shave.

And if I do find work,
I can’t cash my check

I’m Homeless

More on this later.   I have a poem that I want to illustrate this with.  I call it a poem but maybe it doesn’t fit the framework.  It really doesn’t rhyme but I think it at least tells the story.  I call it My Rights – coming next.

If you were looking for a list of supplies I have it right here – Try the link blow!

Click for link:  Help the Homeless – List of Supplies

(photo credit:  Oldtimer taken near MUST in Marietta, GA.

(“I’m Homeless” written by Oldtimer)


46 responses to “What the homeless need most

  1. Thanks for your comment oldtimer ( the translation into Spanish is ‘veterano’ which has the same root as veteran). The problem of homeless is not so serious in Spain, but it exists. The social state provides more protection for people. We are lucky!
    I am going to publish the solution to the puzzle and new puzzles. I am waiting for your visit!

  2. I’ve just come across your site doing a little research tonight. My family and I are starting a tiny little outreach to the homeless. We are making small care packages to give out (couple of cans of food, crackers, piece of fruit, washcloth, soap and toothbrush, etc). It’s a very meager endeavor at the moment, and we will likely only have about 25-30 packages to give out this first time.

    It’s such small things, soap and an apple and a can of tuna, but makes a huge difference when you are lucky if you get to eat at all. It costs about $70 to put 30 packages together, an amount that I have no doubt will be difficult to carve out of our budget at times, but it will be so very worth the effort. Jesus asks us, “I was hungry did you feed me?” I consider every one of these care packages small blessings that Jesus allows us to share with others in need. We do this to Glorify God. While works will never get you into heaven, they do make a difference to those in this world. This shows our children that you do not have to do great works to make a difference in this world. Small contributions make differences, too.

    • What city do you live in? I live close to St.Louis and was looking to start helping some homeless people. I have always wanted to but their are so many and I have so little. But I met a man named Bill last night when I was coming out of the Joel Osteen preaching at the Scott trade center. I was Volunteering there and didn’t have any money to give. But I did stand there and talk to him for about 20 minutes. When I first told him I didn’t have anything, he said “At least you noticed me.” I didn’t think much of it at the time but while I stood there talking to him, I saw at least 6 couples walk by. while he held up his sign, they walked right by never even looking at him. 2 of the guys walking by with their wife’s said hi to me and never even looked over at Bill. Now I knew why he said, At least you noticed me. I hurt for him after seeing that. And these are Christians coming out of a Christian event. Obviously not the best example of a Christian but still. So Bill is my one, I cant help them all just yet. But I can help Bill. I would love to get with others in the area that would like to help, at least swap ideas.

      • I’m in Marietta GA closer to Powder Springs. Thank you for stopping to talk to that man. It is a common complaint that they are invisible. Oh, they are seen but not acknowledged. People will steer around them but avoid eye contact. A few coins or a dollar by every few people can make a meal and a few more can only be helpful. Bless you,

  3. Bless you Kelli. Have you thought out how you are going to distribute these packets? Do you know where you can find homeless on the street or are you going to link up with others doing the same thing?

    No outreach is tiny in my eyes. What I would suggest is to take some time to talk to those you give your packets to if they will let you – don’t be pushy and don’t ask personal questions. Get to know what they need most. Maybe they need something you haven’t thought of even more.

    In other words, don’t turn this into drive by mission work. If you can come back to the same place, you will soon find more people than you can provide for. That is why it may be helpful to involve your church or neighbors or find others doing the same thing once you have established yourself.

    It looks like you may be in or near Atlanta. There are organized groups there that serve regularly under local bridges, including some from my church in Powder Springs.

    Thank you again.


  4. Kelli Thomason

    Hey Oldtimer!

    I could use all the info you could provide. We are inexperienced, so anything you can share will be extremely helpful. Espically information on where to find homeless, others to talk to,network with, or work directly with, etc.

    The last thing we are looking for is anonymous drive-by “do-gooding”. The few homeless that I have known needed to be regarded with respect as much or more than they needed a meal.

    We are looking to go to the same place\s each time (with all the prayers that are continually going into it, I have faith that we will be able to provide a small but steady service). I’d like to get to know those that will allow us the pleasure.

    My kids (15 and 10) are eager to help and are taking the idea to their Sunday School classes. Our church is fairly small, but growing so fast. The youth probably make up a third of the congregation and are so very spirit filled! An idea planted with them tends to bloom and grow like crazy, so I am kind of sitting on presenting the idea formally to the church, to see what will happen with the youth. If they react as they typically do, I’ll have a ton of help.

    Do you know any particular area it would be good to start? We are in Powder Springs. I had thought of the Elizabeth area.

    Thank you, Oldtimer, for your words of encouragement!

    Warm regards,

  5. Hi, Kelli

    I’ve put out some requests for info from people I know. Give me a couple of more days to get responses. I’ll also dig up the info on those locally to P.S. that are working with the bridges. We also have several actively seeking information similar to your needs. I’ll try to put you in touch.

    My church is Macland Presbyterian.
    We have one group wanting to open a soup kitchen 1 or 2 weekdays a week, another doing under the bridges work with an organized group in Atlanta but also wanting to work with homeless kids and a youth group aching to help wherever they can, similar to yours.

    I am a firm believer that if we can work together, we can accomplish more, but in any event we have to follow where the Holy Spirit leads us. Maybe there can be some joint effort at some point between our churches or our small groups.

    I’m hoping that we can find some place in the South West Cobb area as it is largely underserved in comparison with the area north of Marietta. But the Elizabeth area is heavily populated with homeless and any help they can get there will be welcome.

    I’ve recently done a survey on SW Cobb churches for the Cobb Faith Partnership to find out what services (if any) they provide. Maybe we can find some more to help. We can also work by email if you prefer.


  6. As far as the packets go, there is Sweet Water Valley Camp (SVCAMP) located over in Austell. Run by Darlene Duke. That organization is a Godsend to both homeless and the near homeless in that area.

    They have a food pantry (set up like a supermarket) a clothes closet (set up like a real retail clothing store) and also provide financial aid and a health center including dental and special packets for newborn.

    Everything is free and they take all kinds of donations except furniture – they do take baby stuff). They can use volunteers as well as donations, but they probably can’t use youngsters. Our church prepares packets like that for them to distribute.

    If interested, I’ll send you info on how to find them. I’ll post a needs list that they developed specifically for area homeless. May take a day or two to organize it.


  7. Homeless people need homes. Every resident in the nursing home down from my house would be homeless or close to it if they were not receiving that check or aid benefit every month that pays for the care. It’s the same for homeless but they have no aid. The lady in the room next to my granny is certifyable wacko and she’s not homeless, but the homeless lady on 10th who is just as wacko and sick has to sleep between two dumpsters. Why does the 67 year old homeless lady need life skills, resume classes, group therapy, 12 step (she does not drink but it’s required) to get help? It’s that check in the mail and who has their greedy had out to get it!

  8. If mainstream Christianity could spend some real time with the homeless, they would began to change their view about them. Feeding them is good and should be done, however spending time listening to them is very needful also. You then began to hear their heart.
    God bless you for all you do for them.

  9. Richard, we don’t even come close to what you are doing. So thank you for the comment.

    We have over the last few months developed in our small church a ministry that feeds the wooded homeless a message and an invitation, along with breakfast each Sunday morning at a site near a shelter that only feeds during the week.

    It has been interesting and rewarding, but I think your street ministry is awsome!

    (Also listed in my blogroll at the right)


  10. The work you are doing in the area is remarkable. It is very sad but true that people like you are few and far between. Thank you for everything you do in our community.

  11. Thank you gregpeck. I’m just an old man trying to help out.


  12. Just happened on your site whilst searching for stats.
    Devastating. Expect to be days online reading your pages…
    In solidarity,
    ‘moyper’ from the UK

  13. Hi Oldtimer,

    I was reading my Bible the other day, when I came across Matthew 24: 45, I was so convicted, I thought, what am I doing ? I say I am a christian, yet, I don not feed his people, and help the sick. I have given money, and helped people before, but as far as going out and ACTIVELY seeking people, It never crossed my mind. I could not sleep. The next day, I went and bought jackets, food, balnkets, supplies etc… I have made up backpacks, I was able to find backpacks at 99 cent store, that hold alot of supplies. I asked my pastor if I could leave packs at the door at church, so everyone could pick one up, and ALWAYS have something to give ! I put one in my car the other day , and was able to give it away that day. My plan is to go to a local park, 10 minutes from my house, and give back packs, back, establish relationships by visiting as much as possible. My daughter, who is 14 suggested taking board games, taking home clothes to wash, and even taking a grill down, and bbqing on weekend. My ultimate goal is to buy a hotel, and provide long term transition housing, and making long term difference for just one person. I am just praying for the LORD to show me how to do this.
    As I am new to this, Any advice you have would be appreciated, I really just want to show love, and help someone, not just for today, but for life.
    thank you so much
    ps – I found dog food at cent store also. They come in little sampple bags. I picked some up, Im so glad I did. They people I gave the backpack to the other day had a dog with them!!!!! I am going to make sure to always carry it with me also.

  14. May God bless you Tracy and your daughter too. I think you have it all together.

    I particularly like the idea of taking time to talk to the homeless. Do that as you hand out your goodies if you are in the park or on a sidewalk.

    I spent almost 2 hours with a small group of homeless that came out for breakfast last Sunday morning. They ate, I listened. Don’t pry, just listen. Ask them what they need most. They just soak in attention and respect. You can quickly build a relationship with them.

    The filled backpack is particularly good. Be sure to include hygene products. One complaint I heard several at the food table say was that “my hands are dirty”. They need a waterless hand cleaner, maybe some baby wipes, some washcloths, maybe a small sponge among the goodies. Have a waterless cleaner when you take food and a roll of paper towels. Peel off a handfull for each to take with them and leave the remaining roll behind with someone. Pack the hygene stuff in a gallon size zip lock along with some spare ziplocks. A small painter’s plastic sheet comes folded and takes up almost no room, but is a blessing when trying to sleep in the rain. Your daughter’s friends can make a project out of collecting and putting these together. Remember, there are women out there too, so keep a bag handy just for women with women’s products too.

    Our small group once cooked on site as you are suggesting, but it is frowned on by the authorities and a bit of trouble dealing with the hot remains. What they do now is prepare the food before striking out. Instead of scrambled eggs they sometimes take boiled, peeled egs in plastic snack bags, buttered grits and muffins, small bottles of milk and orange juice, coffee and snacks. A cooler keeps everything hot.

    Even if you can do it only one day a week, they will appreciate it and if you do it every week, you will build lasting friendships. Most shelters that feed the unhoused homeless do so only on week days, and they have to make do on weekends. So if you can arrange a weekend trip you will reach the truly hungry.

    You can also take sack lunches and keep a couple where you can reach them from the driver’s side. Hand them out during the day. It only takes a second to hand one out to someone on a corner . Greatly appreciated.

    Who knows how many angels are among our homeless separating the goats from the sheep.
    Matthew 25:40

    And yes, the homeless love the companionship of a dog or cat. It is good therapy and they love to have good food for them. Some will refuse a shelter if they cannot bring their pet with them.

    Did you try this link? It has a suggested list of supplies and a separate list for the hygene kit.
    Help Support the Homeless – List of supplies


  15. Hi Oldtimer,
    My daughter and I went to the park today !!! we ran low on supplies, so left and went back. The popular item seemed to be the lanterns we found for $ 7/each. We put batteries in them ,a nd gave out extras for each lamp. We handed out about 25 backpacks full of supplies. I agreed to go meet with our new friends tomorrow and get some paperwork they are needing. We were with them for about 3 hours, and actually took a group photo before leaving.
    Can you offer some advice. Im scared to start something I cant finish, I have asked pastor for help with collecting goods, I do not want to go one time, and never return. I have a few friends who are going to donate some items also. Any advice would be helpful, as far as resources ..
    Thank you,

  16. Bless you, Tracy

    You can’t do it alone and shouldn’t for safety and health reasons. Health because you will be trying to go out there when you are already sick or worry about it when you are out of town.

    Recruit some more friends to take up some of the load so you can have someone there when you are not able and to give you support when you are weary. Maybe they will rotate some of the job. You do not need to be there alone. When you can’t go, it is not a tragedy, but if you have recruited others, then there is no loss of ground either.

    Perhaps organize a small group in your church and ask the pastor to recommed who to invite. Ours started out in the evangelism mission small group.

    Your pastor will know those who are most likely to be receptive. Try to draw friends from other churches into your group and see if they won’t do the small group thing in their church. I don’t have to remind you that this is not about you or your church. It is not our mission, but His.

    Invite one or two to go with you each time you go and don’t pressure anyone to continue to go, but just let them get to know some of these people and they will quickly learn that these are real people, not just scary unknown strangers and develop their own desire to help.

    Don’t be afraid of asking the homeless what they really need and don’t try to give them everything they might ask for as a very few are quite good with stories that they have practiced before. Most will ask for very little, and their expectations are very low, but they always need all the help they can get.

    Money is not the answer, but help with food, clothing, supplies, and maybe a few going in to do something special for someone in real need or that you know will pull them out of homelessness would be a true blessing some day.

    Very likely you will be able to get permission to announce in a church bulletin e a program to supply hygene kits or supply kits. Perhaps the youth group will collect these items for you and package them in gallon size zip lock bags. We put together more than a hundred last year in a two week period of time. You might also ask for a special donation through the church to help purchase back packs or lanterns or batteries. All kinds of batteries are prized.

    Many food banks and clothes pantries are pleased to give out things to take to the homeless. You will find real bargins at dollar stores and church yard sales. If you can find Coleman type lanterns at a discount or dollar store, they will be prized over battery lanterns as the fuel is cheaper than batteries. Also the small camp stoves that use alcohol burners. Try your hand at calling a few business owners and asking for a donation, perhaps through your church so they get a deduction.

    See if you can get some local facility like a city or Y-run swimming pool to let them take showers from time to time. Anything that helps them get cleaned up or maintain some level of hygene is always appreciated and has the benefit of giveing them more self respect, more confidence and a better appearance when job hunting. Imagine trying to take a sponge bath in the woods or behind a building, or in the dark of a cold night or without anything but an already dirty rag and no soap.

    Contrary to popular conception, most homeless are working when they can, many at labor pools or odd jobs they can find, some at fast food places, but never earn enough to get off the street. Anything that helps them maintain their appearance, clothes, hair, cleanliness, etc. will be helpful. Any clothes you take should be laundered and pressed first, when possible.

    Grace and Peace,


  17. Hi Oldtimer ,

    We went to park on Sunday. The first week, I went with my daughter, the second week we had 5 more people with us !!!!! My friend donated boxes of food and supplies, so we now have enough to go a few more weeks. I know God will make a way for us to continue. The problem I am running up against is the response ” they want to be like that, and the are all addicts/alcoholics”……BUT , I tell myself, ” I am also an addict/alc ( delivered) , and it was hard enough getting sober under a roof, with food in my belly !!!! We have already met so many wonderful peop;le down there, and I wonder about them through the week.
    I did see a friend I had lost contact with years ago, she had an apt. for 15 years, and rent went up, one thing led to another, and she ended up out in street. She is now getting a place my 15th of March, she has been saving for deposit, and living with a family. She is so close to being out there again. I am so glad we saw her, because we can raise some money, and help her before it is too late, and it takes too much to get back up again.
    I am sad by people in the church that are hard hearted towards HUMAN beings like this, but the more anyone tries to discourage me, the more determined I am. It was only a short time ago that I drove by park everyday, listening to christian radio, and looking the other way.
    Thank you,
    ant advice is always appreciated!!!

  18. Tracy, God bless you!

    Just as surely as there will always be the poor and homeless among us, there will also be those who don’t understand or misunderstand the problems the homeless face.

    There were skeptics within our group before we began but soon they all came to realize that these are not just alcoholics nor drug addicts nor mentally ill people, but instead, people with real needs that are stuck near or at the bottom of a long downward spiral. Without help they will likely never get out.

    Those that will help will, and you should cultivate those ones and they will cultivate others. Those that give excuses should be excused themselves and not pressured nor slighted as they simply do not yet understand.

    Hopefully they have interests in other mission activities within the community. Our church has a lot of different missions and there are people interested in each one, but no one interested in them all. For example there are people that knit blankets for newborn babies but I have little interest in taking up knitting.

    There are people that have no gift for mission-like work at all, but have other gifts you may not have seen yet.

    It is better to display a kind and concerned heart in front of them without being discouraged. There is a chance that your enthusiasm will bubble over and they will come out and see for themselves.

    Anyway, you are not doing this for their benefit and they likely have problems of their own. Let them be, or you take a chance in losing good friends.

    Beyond all that, we are called to help by a 2000 year old admonition to feed and clothe the hungry, and heal the sick.

    Matthew 25:37-40
    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    You are playing the part of an Angel with your old friend. God put you in the right place and her in the right place. I think that is amazing.

    There are no coincidences with God!

    Grace and Peace,


  19. Hi ,
    we are going on week 4. I went to park today, and sat at tables and everyone just sat and talked for a few hours. Last weekend I was praying to God I could continue to go, and 10 kids showed up, said the Lord had put it on their hearts, and we are all meeting this week to pull resources to go this weekend. they said it was life changing !!! They said they thought they were bringing Jesus to the park, but He was there before they arrived !!!! About 1/2 tell me that they believe in Jesus, and I have already given out all the Bibles I have.
    I cant even begin to express what an incredible blessing it has been to go to the park as often as I can, and I am starting to go through the week now.
    I am going to the High Desert Homeless Shelter tomorrow to talk to the director about becomming a board member and a volunteer!!!! We went to their fundraiser Saturday nite, I won 7 raffle prizes, one was a shampooand haircut, which I am using to take a lady from the park to !!!!
    It is frustrating because there are alot of drug dealers there, and they just sit and stare when I am there, it is irritating that they are pushing to these people. But I think I will start bring soda for them, because they need to see the love of Jesus just as bad if not worse !!!! I know to be careful, one man that lives there is sort of like a bodyguard to me when I go, and said the “dealers ” know why I am there, and would never lay a finger on me !!!!!
    I thank you for your web site, It helped so much with arming me with information before I went down there !!! What started out as a “feeling” I should be doing something is turning into a lifestyle.
    I am a realtor, and the kids that came the other day are in mortgage. we were discussing some sort of transitional housing, is there any info you can share on that ??? I know there is alot of red tape.
    The park is getting bulldozed in 2 weeks, that is our citys answer to the problem. and I have heard that the police go and take their tents down also. I really want to think about long term answer to the problem , even though it may take awhile to happen.
    Please, any advice, as always , is so appreciated !!!!

  20. What a blessing you are!.

    It is no coincidence that you are in real estate. There are no coincidences with God! I am developing a new program for jobs and housing for the homeless that involves real estate.

    Instead of a shelter, I’m starting a program I call “Menders” (as in to mend, to fix, meaning mending homes, mending lives and mending housing). The idea is to purchase run down housing as inexpensively as possible and put homeless people in them and teach them how to repair and upgrade the property.

    This means with donated tools and volunteer crew chiefs, and help from various service organizations (Mender’s Partners) for counseling, testing, treatment, spiritual development and donations.

    For example with 2 bedroom duplexes you can put 4 homeless men in their own bedrooms, put them to work, pay them wages and charge them a small fee for rent. Use local shelters for referrals for men likely to be crew chiefs, so that eventually we have beautified, sturdy homes where blight once existed and all formerly homeless work crews. With a 3 or 4 home startup, we can build the world.

    The city benefits from beautified homes, fewer homeless on the streets, etc. while the homeless benefit from jobs, immediate housing, a place to clean up, job training, perminent address, etc.

    Once a home is refurbished it would be placed for sale and the profits used to finance one or two more. Our homeless would be encouraged to graduate to other jobs and rent their own places.

    I would encourage a 4 to 6 man crew to develop comraderary and watch each other’s backs to stay clean and develop a good work ethic. Each one to help the other over tough spots. With 2 or more houses in work in a neighborhood, I would encourage some competition on progress, quality and looks.

    The volunteer’s would be from local churches to help build a Christian foundation to go with the homes they work on. Locally I plan to call on trained crew chiefs from our local Habitat for Humanity to help plan and guide the work. Many of these crew chiefs come from local churches. There are 10 churches in my group.

    See what your kids think about that idea. The houses could be creatively financed and funded in part by grants and donations. Some condemned housing might be considered where the homeless live in other, safe housing but fix up the condemned ones to get a C.O. and later move other homeless into them for further renovation.

    It would be a hoot to see what the kids come up with for financing, costs, and potential gains over a couple of rounds of such refurbishment. I think it would be a good exercise.

    The challange would be to get the right homeless into it to start with – trustworthy, good work ethic, honest, non abusive. I think there are plenty out there, as many of those I have met work construction jobs all the time in labor pools, etc.


  21. I think that sounds great. I have also been thinking of someting along that line… putting peple in that can fix up and take care of. I will talk to these kids, abd also check on grants.
    I am taking my english bulldog to the park today, everyone is asking to see her.
    Mt freind and I are starting a “campaign of love” , and asking all churches in areas to carry sack lunches and take time to reach out to homeless!!!! I talked to alot of people yesterday that said they didnt want to go into a shelter because they want to be able to drink when they want. But, I feel that if we are a constant presence, that when they are ready someone will be there to reach out. Love is the most powerful, and it is lifechanging….
    I will get back to you on the idea you have….
    Thank you,

  22. We are Compassion For Homeless and Handicapped Children,Based in Calabar Nigeria,We are currently giving out free food to the Homeless and Handicapped Children every friday of the week.
    I have been doing this for over two years now,without donations or support.But right now the number of the Homeless and Handicapped Children keep on increasing day by day.
    In this connection We are asking for your support like cloths,shoes,Bible and whatever you can support us with.
    Service to Mankind is Service to God.
    For The Homeless.

  23. Dear Sir: What do you suggest? During the process of making a few small kits, the Sunday’s paper had a bunch of coupons for what the vets website, you mentioned, suggested. So, the women’s kits were able to be completed. My question to you- I took them to the women’s day(portion)of the shelter. Through warehouses, in the past I have donated larger items, for them to open and disperse as needed. This time, due to limited funds and personal reasons …I wanted the women to have their own bags, without having to ask someone for personal care items. What was in there: (the vets site helped) Full size Always pads-Overnight, Reg,Ultra, Wings; Listerine smart Rinse; Colgate 360 toothbrush or Colgate Active Angle toothbrush; Colgate Total Advanced toothpaste; Dental Floss; Lady Speed Stick; Carmex lip balm; Coco Butter stick; Purell Hand Sanitizer 20z; Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion- travel size ; Two stamped envelopes, 3 plain envelopes, Johnson Bandaids; Tylenol or Aleve 24-30 ct extra strength; Swedish Fish; Small Pringles, inside gallon ziplock bags, placed inside the grocery bags /sacks for sale at the market. The staff took the kits apart and stocked them. If I only have ten packs like this, although small, what should I do? Thanks.

  24. Dear Sir:
    What do you suggest? What do you do with small kits? If the shelter breaks them up, instead of giving them to someone? Is there a better way to share something, although small? With more time now and less money, I can shop the coupon sales(like last week). Before, when working I could buy bulk from the clubs, but can’t now. Thanks, K.
    If my last post was out of line, somehow, my apologies.

  25. K. I’m sorry I took so long to respond. This has been a hectic week for me due to business commitments and I’ve been neglecing my site.

    What you are trying to do is wonderful.

    I think the problem is one of trust. The shelter has or has heard of situations where people put together packages like this with hate mail or inappropriate material hidden within. For example a local mail program to the troops was shut down due to concern that anti war groups would insert hate mail in the packages. We found a volenteer that they trusted to check the packages first, then sent them on. Otherwise they would not even accept them.

    The shelter that we deliver to has a long relationship with our church and several others in the area. If a person they don’t know shows up with such a package they will always open it and inspect the contents and do with it whatever they want.

    However, someone that they have dealt with and always received “good stuff”, they are much more tolerant and, when asked, will leave it intact. It kind of has to fit their program, as the kits usually do. And the relationship is one of reliable good stuff and not junk or spam.

    Perhaps you need to get an appointment with the person in charge and see if you can convince him/her that the material is safe, no hidden agenda and will be more useful intact.

    However, they make their own rules. Most places will separate the items into categories and dispense them according to need. They see it as wasteful to give a kit with toothbrush and comb to someone that already has one when there may be others that don’t.

    We sometimes ask the shelter director what they are short of and then go and buy it in bulk somewhere. Once we bought seveal hundreds of bars of soap and several dozens of wash cloths that we were told they were short of. At the time they had like 100 cases of donated toothpaste and in turn donated some of that to our kits.

    Thank you for caring.


  26. Hi Jim, Thanks for the response. When I went back to the website, I couldn’t find the posts.

    It is sad to think that someone would place hate mail in something like that or anything really. That is a alot of energy, wasted. I’m glad you cleared that up. They also could not give out the Tylenol or Aleve, but could give it to the overnight part of their shelter. I should have asked. In the past, there were other women there managing it, and I would buy the bulk personal items at the clubs, -soap powder, fabric softener, coffee… from their lists, or ask, baby cloths (infant ‘s) on sale, etc in bulk. It is funny how those kits came about. I was thinking after a long winter, what do you run out of, when the heating bills are high, you put off buying, and thought about the homeless, made a list of what I would want.. and it led me to your website, your list and the Wandering Vet’s list, then the coupons for the exact items in the Sunday’s paper. I wanted to do more, but couldn’t, so decided if I can give one person a bag of items they don’t have to ask anybody for, a Tylenol, or personal items, for now then o.k. , more when I go back to work. It is possible that I went to the wrong place this time. I started to go to a parking lot where the farmer’s markets are, where some people stay, under an overpass. However, going there enabled me to give some items I had purchased to a young lady who was moving into her own home that day. They said they would give her the kit as is. I said- “Let me go to my car, to add these things for starting a home. ” That’s why I said the whole thing was a little funny. I had just bought cleaning products, canned goods,some of our regular items-jelly, canned milk… and products I don’t use that were on sale ( normally a little to expensive for me) or had great coupons, Raid- large can, Bam, Lysol pine, 3 for $1.00 libby’s canned goods, Del Monte pasta sauce, Gain liquid, foot /heel balm, a bath soak, Johnson’s baby wipes/wash/lotion, Zooth (?)children’s toothbrushes-2 -with a figurine and a car- she had two small children, a boy, a girl, and an infant. I should have known the good Lord was looking out for someone and her specific situation that I knew nothing about at the time.

    I wanted to leave my email, but didn’t want it to post. My son says once you put it out there on the internet, you can’t erase it.

    Thanks for getting back to me. I really enjoy you site. It has a lot of food for thought on may things.


  27. Thank you K.

    You are right about not putting your email on the internet. Not only spam but there are nut cases out there.

    Anyway, in general, emails put in the form do not post but can be viewed by the blogger to help them decide whether to approve the post or not or to respond directly.

    I have received a few innocent looking posts that I could trace back to spam sites. Once you approve a few of them the system puts them on automatically, then the spam hits.

    I remove any I find in the body of the text unless someone specifically asks me to leave them in and it seems appropriate, usually someone in need.

    However, it is never a good idea to put an email address in the body of any text because after a few consecutive approved messages, the system posts new messages before I see them so they could show up for up to a day. Anyway, Thanks for writing, thanks for caring, thanks for helping the needy.

    There are no coincidences with God. He puts us into some situations in answer to someone else’s need.

    Regarding kits for special needs:

    Sweetwater Valley C.A.M.P that provided the list that I posted makes up kits for newborns – cribs, bottles, formula, baby clothes, diapers and stroller among other items. They give them to new mothers that come in needing food or clothing.

    It is one of the neatest things they do.


  28. Hi Jim,

    So many things have happened that lead me to believe that it was more than a coincidence.

    Since then, I went to the same stores, and few of those items were available, on sale or otherwise. I had coupons, but it..It is hard to explain, it couldn’t have come together if, I had wanted it to. A few of those toothbrushes are now $4.00-$5.00. Whew. Those specific items were meant for someone.

    It is true, when you give to someone else, you receive. The additional coupons, I may have mentioned, were for things that my family eats/uses that are too expensive for my taste. Many, I bought for next to nothing last week. Chicken nuggets, cereal-Lucky Charms, Dan Active, yogurts on sale… I also noticed some interesting things about time. Things were done faster, trips to the Dr.’s office took less time- all green lights, time at the office was quick, less for parking. I remember thinking, how did I get to that office so fast? Less gas too. It sounds strange, but I knew it had something to do with helping someone else.

    There also were rebates involved. So far about $22.00 dollars for those items for the kits. I wanted to add up the amount of coupons used for the kits, at least $50.00. I’ll look at the receipts and get back to you.

    I like the kits for specific needs that you described. I’ll start stockpiling items as I see them. Shopping for baby things is fun.

    The paper this week had a lot of razors on sale with coupons, cortisone cream, Nexaid’s, antidiahhrea, tums. I thought, Hmm is this the beginning of the next group of items.

    I really enjoy your site and theWandering vets’.


  29. Oh, thanks for the tips about the email address, in the body of text or otherwise. I’ll have to keep that in mind.


  30. Hi Jim,

    This was a good week for gathering a few items. The box contained: 10 – 8 bar count Ivory and Ivory aloe; 3 Zest; Five Quattro Razors (one with a mirror and another with a case-I wish they all had that carrying case), 2 Ultimate Reach toothbrushes; 1 60 count & 5 travel Bandaids; 15 travel size Purell; 5 tee shirts-xxl, xl, l-dark colors(except one); 10- 500 count xs aspirin; Zilactin gel-Free; Simalisan ear drops( 1/2 price of 5.99/$1/1coupon and Women’s Xtreme razors-2-8 count-bogo/2.00 off4.99.

    I think I get more enjoyment out of it than anything and wish I could do more, and anonymously.

    These items were taken to the Cafeteria of the same shelter. Someone from the overnight section from the women’s shelter picks up food there, and they said they could give it to them. When I asked about the men’s shelter, it had moved to the same building as the Cafeteria. I told them I had mostly Ivory and a few Zest. The young fellow said, “The men can use Ivory, Razors, Purell, yes, give it here, and Tee shirts in larger sizes, we will take it.”

    Your blog, made that happen. How so, you may ask? When I saw the travel Bandaids on sale for fifty percent off, and the Purell travel size(50% off, the Zilactin-Free, ear drops,…I thought of your blog and the lists that you provided. Instead of waiting to make a bigger package or individual kits, your input led me to take what could be purchased this week, as someone could use it (though small) now.

    Thanks again for your blog. It has helped.


  31. I’ve done nothing. Thanks for all you do. I wish everyone would have your initiative and generosity.


  32. Hi,

    It is pouring down rain here. Now it sounds like sleet or hale, everyone just said at the same time. I can’t help but think about someone out in this weather with no where to go.


  33. Raining here at the same time. Also a little hail was pecking on my window about 4:30.

    The homeless without any good shelter often move close to buildings or other overhangs to get out of the rain. It’s no fun I’m sure. A lot different than a well equipped camping trip.

  34. Hi Jim,

    An overhang- What a shame. And your stats. show just how many are Vets. We all can do better.


  35. Hi Jim,

    I am truly humbled by some recent events, that I don’t know are appropriate for your blog. So if you don’t post, it is o.k. I wanted to share this with you. Listen, a few weeks ago, the last of our t.v.s went up. As they have over the last 2-3 years(they were all around 12-15 years old except one, that’s another story). IT was amazing how much time you seem to have when you don’t look at tv. So, we didn’t buy another. That left me with free time to spend on coupons and finding free or next to free things items to share. For example- yesterday, while not looking for these items I bought, Russell Stover Candy, bags and boxed, (1)Mentos, (1)Peanut Butter crackers , and (1)Peanut Chew for next to nothing. When I walked past the candy, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have some nice candy like that in a kit( if ok with the shelter or their cafeteria) . Maybe later. I walked by it again and realized it was 50% off and that I had a coupons so the bags were $1.50 buy 2 get one free, and the boxed was 2.50 for the Russell Stover before the coupon. I went to buy the Quattro razors for $.99 (2), with a coupon and a raincheck to start on the next packages, Degree deoderant, for the men, and came upon Bayer Extra Strength and Bayer Plus reduced from $7.00 to 3.50 with one and two dollar coupons, and Suave shampoo 99 cents/ .50 coupons…

    I had decided to take the snacks to the kitchen to ask if they could use it, or how/if would they like to give it to the morning group of seniors and disabled that they serve breakfast. ( And to interview for volunteering- the fellow who received the items last week, asked me would I like to come to the orientation on next Wednesday. I said no thanks ( more on that later). Anyway, I did not make it there. However, someone knocked on my door and said, I have a t.v for you. I had jokingly told a worker here that our tv went up and we were kind of enjoying the peace and extra time. He said then that, people give him tvs here all the time, and had an extra one that he gave to an uncle who told him he didn’t need another tv, come and get it, which he had not had the chance to do and then the neighbors ( twin brothers who live together, I knew exactly who he was talking about) gave him this tv today. They also give him dishes.., they are into housekeeping quite a bit. I said, “I can use some dishes and people who are setting up a new home at the shelter can always use them.” I think he got more joy out of giving us that tv. He agreed when I said, “This has something to do with me putting together, really, a miniscule contribution to help someone else. It is amazing how the Lord Jesus works.” I told him I felt like crying, I’m not kidding. He laughed, and said, The good Lord said He would open the windows of heaven…. I had not heard that in years. They attend church often.

    So, as I said, Jim, If you don’t post this ok. I wanted to let you know this. Unbelievable.

    (The other thing was- I had marked my calendar for Wed. May 21st to go back to work. When I looked at the calendar last night , I said ok going to the cafeteria today, if they accept my application, can meet that deadline of going back to work, while I gear up my job search. I didn’t make it today- Thursday is still another good day, to see about the candy for the breakfast group and filling out the application)

    Thanks for your blog. You say you have done nothing, but your blog has had a great influence on me, what I look for in the stores, deals on items people can use, ideas about what can help, even if down the road…


  36. Hi Jim,

    As an aside: I don’t think the candy will make it to the shelter. The male humans- Sr. and Jr. found the bag and well… In reference to the Mentos gum, the comment was “Good, but, a little nauseating.” I said ” Why did you eat it?” Hmm, I’ll have to take a different approach when it comes to sweets.



  37. Hi Jim,

    I was able to take several boxes of bubble gum for the breakfast group, yesterday. I got there before it ended and talked to the manager about volunteering in the a.m. I enjoy taking the items for the breakfast group, as well as shopping for the items. They said that they spread them out on a table after breakfast is over. The only thing is, I prefer to donate anonymously. If I volunteer there, then they will know who brought it. As it is now, I go to a rear door and bring the items in there.
    Any thoughts? I would like to do both.


  38. read your web site it is great. my name is cheryl and me and my husband are homeless on the streets of miami we are both in our 50’s and he is a veteran of the vietnam war. We have a jeep and a travel trailer but the jeep needs minor repairs and a few things for trailer and we would be ok but we can’t live in it there in their backyard so we were planning on going north where we can park it at family’s BUt i haven’t gotten in help at all for this so we are still stuck here untill we can get out of here.

  39. Homeless people are growing and in this day and age it is a tragedy


  41. Why Don’t You Just Get A Job
    First: Establish a Drop N Center open hours suggeste 8am – 8pm. Provide personal lockers with a lock and key for consumers using the facility.
    Items A thru D can be based in the Drop N Center providing a central location for the consumer to use as a temporary home base.
    But I have no ID – Partner with your city council in providing ID cards
    A. No phone – Establish a Free Phone Service Facility for out going and incoming calls.
    No residence – Establish Transitional Housing Project to house consumers after they secure employment.
    B. No transportation – Provide a minimum of Two (2) bus passes per day for Job Search only. Providing round trip bus passes must continue until the consumer is able to provide their own, usually after their first paycheck.
    No references – Open for Ideas on this one.
    C. No clean clothes – Establish a Free donated clothing facility
    D. No place to wash or shave – Provide two (2) shower stalls along with two(2) washers & dryers inside the Drop N Center.
    And if I do find work
    E. I can’t cash my check – With the photo ID supplied by the city and using the address of the Drop N Center shoud eliminate this problem.
    One Last Note: Explain to your agencies that Turf Guarding is now a thing of the past. From now on your agencies MUST submit their available services to a committee who will inturn will compile a list of services with the agency’s name and phone number, eliminate like services. This completed list should be used to make a central referral center. The consumer then can call 211, state their need and be referred to the correct agency for the proper assistance.

  42. I’d like to do some emotional work with the homeless. What do you think they need emotionally? I think they have messages they are trying to pass on to workers that are maybe not heard or understood. Do you think training workers on how to listen to emotions, feelings, between the lines and with body language etc. would be a help? Thank you. I understand that their basic needs are food and shelter, but they also have emotional needs that are not always met.
    Great blog.

  43. I work at a homeless shelter. I just wanted to say thank you for what you are doing for clients like ours. Most of them just need to know that others do care and no matter what their situation Jesus still loves them.

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