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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Friday, June 29, 2018

7 Best Ways to Support Local Homeless Shelters


Recently, we’ve been talking about ways you can support local charities and the causes you care about on a budget. We shared tips for donating your old clothes, a list of things you can contribute to your local animal shelter, and a guide to finding meaningful (and fun) volunteer opportunities

Today we’re sharing 7 budget-friendly ways to support the homeless shelter in your community. Typically, we look for ways to support our local shelter when the weather gets cold and people are looking for a warm meal and place to stay, but shelters operate all year long. They provide shelter, resources, and other services to individuals experiencing homelessness in winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Keep reading to learn how you can support your local shelter in their work to alleviate and end homelessness in your community today.



Clothing. We’ve shared tips for re-organizing your closet and getting rid of the things that no longer fit or you no longer wear. Once you’ve purged, reach out to your local homeless shelter. They often accept clothing donations, especially warm jackets and coats for the colder months and lightly-worn professional clothes that their clients can wear on job interviews. They may also accept infant and children’s clothing if they house families.

Toiletries and personal care items. Shelters are always in need of these items. They provide them to clients living in their facilities, as well as homeless individuals in the community. If the shelter houses women and children, feminine hygiene products and diapers are greatly appreciated.

  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap or shower gel
  • Deodorant
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • First-aid items: Band-Aids, bandages, medicated wipes ointments

Reading glasses. If you own one pair of reading glasses, chances are you probably own five. Consider donating your old or extra pairs to your local shelter. They will provide them to their clients as is, or fit them with their proper prescription. 

School supplies and toys. Shelters that house families can often use toys and school supplies, especially in the middle of the year when things are running low. Consider stocking up on a few extra packs of crayons, markers, and paper during your back-to-school shopping or donating your kids’ gently-used toys. For a child experiencing homeless, these simple items can go a long way toward making life feel a little more “normal.”

Blankets. We think of donating blankets and coats when the weather gets cold, but shelters can use these items all year long. If you’d like to hit the hay with a blanket on your bed, so would someone living without guaranteed access to a warm place to sleep. New and gently-worn blankets are always appreciated.

Durable bags. Homeless shelters often provide their clients with bags and boxes to keep their things in if they’re unable to store them during the day. If you’re like me, you’ve amassed a collection of canvas bags, reusable shopping totes, and “free gift with purchase” duffle bags. Donating them to your local shelter is a great way to give them a second life.

Bicycles. Some shelters accept gently-used bicycles for their clients to run errands and get to work. If you’ve got a spare bike or two getting dusty in the garage, consider donating it!

Now, we want to hear from you!

If you’ve donated goods or supplies to the homeless shelter in your community, what did you give? And, is there anything you’d recommend donating that’s not on this list?

By supporting our local shelters, we can all be partners in alleviating homelessness in our communities.

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

6 comments:

Mama Murray said...

Thanks so much for your varied creative options to help!

Unknown said...

I once read that socks are high need items.

Unknown said...

Homeless shelters can always use NEW underwear and socks. In fact, socks are one of the items they most often request. Imagine how good it would feel to spend a night at a shelter and be able to take a hot shower and put on nice clean underwear.

Unknown said...

I work in a shelter. Bus passes, cosmetics, specialty hygiene products and OTC meds like denture items or calming lotion. Passes to local activities like a movie or play. Gift certificates for haircuts, our local beauty school takes care of us but a haircut goes a long way to making you feel "new" and confident. Cell phones. Old ones can be repurposed easily and new are as cheap as $20 having ccv intact for potential employers as nd landlords. Most important of all personal interaction. Serve a meal, learn a name and story, give a person an opportunity if you are an employer or landlord.

Unknown said...

Tents and mosquito repellent are always needed in Florida

Ahmed Husein said...

Donations....respect, ready what so ever to donates...thanks