Winter is not a fun time for the homeless and less fortunate. This is made even worse by Christmas, a time traditionally spent with family or enjoying yourself. If your homeless or the less fortunate, you maybe watching everyone else enjoy themselves while you seem invisible.
It isn’t wrong of you to enjoy yourself at all, but you should spare a moment to think of the less fortunate. You really do never know when the tables maybe turned, and it kinda makes you a good human if nothing else.
Homeless Shoebox Initiative
The Homeless Shoebox initiative is a rock solid idea, and shouldn’t really cost much at all. If you haven’t heard of this idea, let me fill you in.
Basically you take an shoebox or a box of a similar size, a bigger box is fine too, and prepare it with items which will make a homeless persons life a little easier in the cold winter and hopefully add a little joy over the Christmas period.
This is a fun task to do with your children, as many many schools already do this as a class / school project. Its also a good time to help teach your children to be compassionate and good humans. Not to mention a good excuse to spend time with family.
Every year I think about what to put in the box, and in the end the imaginary balance I come up with, is 75% essential items and 25% Useful Items, for me this is the ideal mixture. Essential Items to me are things to keep warm and dry, sanitary products, personal care items (brushes, toothpaste etc), a wind up torch, dry and long shelf life foods. Useful Items is a misnomer really, more useful but not essential items, I’m talking about books, a wind up radio, magazines, pens, notepads, things like that.
There are various items which are forbidden, the primary items being…
Sharp Objects – Knives, Forks, Scissors, Blades, Plastic and Reusable Cutlery is ok.
Alcohol – Just No, its best to even avoid alcohol flavoured foods and drinks.
Money – Nope.
I have made a quick list of items which I think are worth considering, and including, there isn’t really an order I added them nor is the list exhaustive, but should give you a starting point.
|Hair Brush||Windup Radio|
|Shower Gel||Baby Wipes|
|Hand Sanitiser||Lip Balm|
|Lightweight Flasks||Bars of Soap|
|Canned Drinks||Protein Bars|
|Packet Soups||Energy Bars|
|Sewing Kits||Bottle Openers|
|Dry Foods||Puzzle Books|
I’m not sure about the following items, but figure they maybe useful for those with family. Postcards and Stamps, Phonecards, it may make it easier for them to contact said family. Its worth checking if any of these are prohibited.
AA Batteries for any items they have which need them, I always think this is a good thing to add.
What About The Dogs
You should also consider that many homeless people have pets, usually dogs, but I have heard of one occasion where the homeless lady had a cat, but its rare, so best to stick to dogs focussed. Please don’t include human foods, they maybe bad for the dog, and where possible stick to dry foods which can be stored and keep for a long time.
Final Check List
Please don’t include prohibited items, which are essentially money, alcohol and sharp things.
When you put your box together, don’t seal it shut, as often the organisers will add extra items, or needed items which you either didn’t think of, or may have missed.
If possible, wrap both the lid and the box separate, and perhaps use a bow to hold it closed.
You should also mark who you’re intended recipient is, as in young male, general female, dog, etc, so it can be handed to the right recipient.
You can also include wrapping paper if you’re not good at wrapping and/or a Christmas Card as a nice touch as they may not get one this year.
Shoebox Appeal Links
Shoebox Appeal Manchester.
Shoebox Appeal Sheffield.
Shoebox Appeal Leeds.
Shoebox Appeal Chesterfield.
Shoebox Appeal Mansfield.
Shoebox Appeal Belfast.
Shoebox Appeal Rotherham.
Shoebox Appeal Doncaster.
Shoebox Appeal Barnsley.
Shoebox Appeal Liverpool.
Shoebox Appeal Swansea.
There are loads more, search for your area on facebook, or check your local newspaper for more information.
Photo Borrowed from Crisis Centre.
A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.