loading

I work on a very busy corner in L.A. with a significant homeless population in the neighborhood. There's a particular guy with a small dog who is always in front of the same restaurant, and every time I passed him I'd think "I should really give him something". The other day I saw him again, and decided it was time to stop thinking and start doing. I made a quick shopping trip and bought him Nutri-Grain bars, water, Chapstick, a new T-shirt, and a few pouches of food for his dog.

When I presented him with the bag, he was so happy and grateful to receive these really basic items. He was well spoken, friendly, clear headed; just a normal guy you'd meet on the streets and not at all the "scary" or "crazy" perception most people have of the homeless. It felt wrong that people like this should lack basic comforts, so when he mentioned that he has a lot of homeless friends in the area who are also struggling, I decided to grow my efforts.

The concept of care packages for the homeless is not an original idea of mine, however, I've been surprised how many people are hearing about it for the first time from me. In the interest of spreading this effort to other communities, the following Ible is a How To for anyone interested in helping their local homeless, but unsure where to start.I've included budget friendly tips as to what makes a useful and enjoyable care package, some insights about your recipients which may inform your product choices, suggested ways of garnering donations, and lastly, how to get the goods out to the people who need them! You can give someone an amazing gift bag for $5-$10 per person --less than what most people blow on their daily coffee fix.

Step 1: Give Yourself a Deadline

Create a firm deadline for your project!

Give yourself a date these have to be ready to go. If you just indefinitely hoard goodies for the "right time" without a plan for distribution, you'll end up with heaps of stuff in your house and having done no real good.

I made my goal on or before x-mas eve, allowing me 2 weeks to shop or gather donations.

Step 2: Hygeine Items

The following are some ideas for what you might include in a care pack. Don't feel like you have to include everything on this list to make a worthy care package. 1-2 toiletry items is great, 3 and above is awesome!

Travel size toiletries are a great basic component for any homeless folk care package and there's a lot to choose from. Toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, etc. If you're on a budget and can only put in 1 or 2 products, imagine yourself in the recipient's shoes and think about what you would like to get. Would you most enjoy brushing your teeth, or would you rather have soap to wash up when you are afforded the opportunity and privacy? This is also a good opportunity to clean your cabinets of all the hotel samples you've been swiping while on vacation that you never actually get around to using.

Toothpaste --Look for travel kits that include both a toothbrush and toothpaste tube as that is usually the best way to stretch your money. I founds sets at the dollar store which include a carrying pouch and toothbrush cover.

Shampoo or Bodywash --While a homeless person may not have the opportunity to use these everyday for lack of access to a shower, these are still great options. Should a person have the time, resources, and privacy to bathe(perhaps at a shelter or a friend's home), I would imagine nothing in the world would feel better than fresh clean hair and skin. Consider giving someone the treat of what most of us take for granted every day. I recommend bottled body wash over bar soap since it is contained and easier to transport for multiple uses.

Hand Sanitizer --Good for cleaning hands or sterilizing other items on the go. Your most budget friendly options will probably smell like straight up alcohol, but if you're able to find scented sanitizers I highly recommend getting them. A pleasant scent adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your gift for a person who likely doesn't get to use anything but the most basic of products.

Deodorant -- Travel size sticks are easy to carry in a pocket, and may help the person feel fresher between bathing opportunities.

Lip Balm or Lotion --Winter weather dries out our skin, causing us to bust out the Chapstick and hand lotion more often. The other day I noticed how dry and tight my lips felt after a walk outside. I started thinking about how uncomfortable it must be to have no remedy for this, and how constant exposure probably just compounds the issue. Basic moisturizing chapstick or travel size hand lotion can keep a person's skin looking and feeling healthier. A person who looks healthy and approachable is more likely to be treated favorably (whether we are consciously making that decision or not), and stands to do a bit better if collecting donations or interviewing for a job.

Travel packs of Tissue or Wet Wipes --These have multiple applications for cleanliness and hygiene. Tissues are especially handy in the event a person gets sick and needs to blow their nose. I know I hate being without tissue when I'm sick.

Tampons or Sanitary Pads -- An often forgotten but very much needed item. Every woman has probably had an experience where her period arrived a day early and she was unprepared. Most of us are a mere quarter away from addressing the issue, or can grab something from our bathroom cabinet. A homeless woman is at a great disadvantage when it comes to that time of the month. She may not have that quarter. She may not feel comfortable going in to a store to buy sanitary products because of how people treat her. She may not have fresh garments to change into if she can't address the issue in time. Providing a few sanitary products in your care package may not cover a woman's entire cycle, but it will give her the dignity of cleanliness every person deserves until she can find a bigger supply.

Step 3: Food Items

The main priorities when selecting food items for your care packages are 1) Portability and 2) Healthiness. A significant portion of the homeless population suffers from tooth decay and diabetes. Choosing snacks that are a level above the super sugary dollar store offerings is doing a person a better service.

Water --an obvious staple. Bottled water is portable and has multiple applications, though it can be a bit heavy.

Juice Boxes --I like to include these in my care packages because it's flavorful and different from the water many homeless people can probably get for free in restaurants. If possible, go for something that says 100% juice to hopefully cut down the sugar factor.

Granola or Energy Bars --Highly portable, satisfying, not bad for you as snacking goes. Protein bars would also be great, though typically more expensive. Thanks to a friend's generous donation, I was able to include 3 granola bars in each package.

Beef Jerky -- Protein is probably the food group homeless folks have the least access to, but our bodies need it. Jerky offers a portable, shelf stable protein option that easily fits in a care package.

Yogurt or Squeeze Fruit Pouches --portable and tasty, though probably only very cost-effective if purchased in bulk. Shop around and see where you can get the best deal.

Gum -- Including a classic mint gum in your care package allows a person to freshen up periodically and also helps to generate saliva that will help keep teeth healthier. Just make sure you don't get something heavily sugared that would counteract your intent!

Step 4: Warmth and Comfort

Love the feel of a brand new cozy pair of socks? Who doesn't?? A new pair of socks, gloves, or a scarf can provide much needed warmth and protection for someone on the street. Bonus points if you find some in super fuzzy material, because that just makes people happy.

Socks --I once read an article in which a homeless man said the most wonderful feeling in the world was a fresh pair of socks. The best bang for your buck is buying multipacks. The dollar store I went to offered these soft mens' athletic socks 2pr/ $1. Regardless of who you expect might receive the care package, I suggest always buying mens sizes. People will smaller feet will still make them work or can layer them on top of current socks.

*Tip: If you're on a budget, opt for socks over gloves. Tube socks can be worn on the hands as mittens, if the person prefers to warm their hands, but gloves can't fit on your feet!

Gloves --Basic stretch gloves are great, especially in colder climates. Make sure you're buying adult sizes. I almost got suckered in by soft bright colors and fuzzy materials before realizing the "fun" ones are all tiny and meant for kids.

Scarves -- Versatile and can be made at home on the cheap with polar fleece yardage. If you have a rotary fabric cutter, this is literally a 10 minute project.

T-shirt --a simple T-shirt can provide a layer of warmth and also make a person feel happier and cleaner. The gift of a new T-shirt may allow someone who has been wearing the same, stained, shredded clothing for a long time to finally have something new and more effective. On a budget? Go through your closet and clear out all those freebie/ promo T-shirts you receive at events but will never wear again. Thanks to Instructables runners' up prize packs, I have more robot T-shirt than there are days of the week. Throughout the year I intentionally ordered different sizes so that I would have a variety to offer for this project. I kept my favorite colors in my size and put the rest in care packages for other people to enjoy.

Hand Warmer Packs -- Consider including these, especially if your region reaches very low temperatures. Even with two pairs of gloves on, midwest winters can still manage to make your fingers ache. One time use hand warmer packs can help someone get through an especially rough night, and can be tucked into a boot or inside a coat to warm whatever is most needed.

Step 5: First Aid

In the interest of keeping this light and portable, this section will not be a full-on first aid kit. Rather, this will address the most basic of ailments and injuries that someone can self treat.

Basic Bandages --I prefer fabric bandages since they are a bit more resistant to peeling if they get wet. Throwing a few bandages in your pack will give the person something to use next time they get a simple cut or scratch, helping to prevent infection.

Common OTC Medicines --These might include Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antacid tablets, Cough Drops, Motrin, etc. The thought is that if a person as a headache, cold, or other minor ailment, they don't have to suffer through it. This is not intended to be a substitute for real medical attention, just a means of making someone's life suck a tiny bit less. Multipacks of OTC medicines can be purchased at office supply places like Staples, and would normally be used for office first aid kits. Buying this way is ideal because the meds come prepackaged in individual doses, so you can easily divide the stock amongst many care packages.

*When on a budget, spread your resources around. Don't feel like you have to give every person an entire medicine cabinet. In each of my packs, I included 2 types of medicine, 2 band-aids, and a cough drop. PMS relief packets went into the women's packs, and everything else was just random. If you've got a lot of packages circulating, hopefully people can trade with each other for what they need most.

Step 6: Sourcing Donations (optional)

If it would be difficult for your to fund these care packages on your own, consider getting other sources involved.

Friends, Family, and Co-Workers --A well worded announcement that you are doing this project will make people feel invited to contribute, rather than obligated. If your supervisor allows it, post a flyer in the office kitchen letting people know about your project, and how they can connect with you if they want to get involved. I made a post on Facebook announcing my plan and simply said anyone who wants to contribute to the effort is welcome to do so. People were excited about the idea of doing something good, and several colleagues and friends made donations of food, toiletries, or cash for me to make another dollar store trip.

Local Stores --Approaching local grocery stores is worth a shot, though the results are hit and miss. You can ask to speak with a manager and tell them about your care packages. Tell them you'd be grateful for any shelf stable food or toiletry items that they are about to get rid of. Most of the stuff headed to the dumpster (like spoiled produce or meats) obviously won't be viable for your packages, but once in a while the timing is right and you can score something handy. If the Freebie Gods don't smile on you, check the clearance cart for toiletries like toothpaste that are about to "expire" (even though they're still fine) and nab them for super cheap.

Corporations -- Unfortunately, you won't have much luck here unless you are part of an official 5013c charity. Most corporations have strict guidelines for donations or have designated charity groups they do annual business with, and will send you a polite "no" response. I emailed several P&G and Unilever brands and was not terribly surprised that all declined to contribute. If you have a personal connection to a brand, like a relative that works for the company, you may have better luck than I did. Generally, I'd say writing to large companies is worth a shot, but do not hinge your project on their cooperation. Do this because YOU want to do it.

Step 7: Preparing Packages for Distribution

Once you have your items selected, you'll need to bundle them together for easy distribute to recipients. Different packaging options offer varied benefits. Consider your budget and the weather in your area to choose the best solution.

Large Ziplocs -- Waterproof and compact, but no handle for easy carrying. Fortunately, this keeps things at a manageable size to be tucked into a person's existing bags. I recommend gallon size bags --no smaller.

Plastic Grocery Bags --Easy to carry and free (unless you live in CA where they're off limits now) but thin plastic may tear easily over time.

Re-useable Tote Bag -- You may be able to purchase these cheaply in quantity. Durable and handy even after all your goodies are gone, though not usually water proof.

Purses --For women (or those who identify as women). A friend of mine saw the idea of using purses online and wanted to contribute her old purses to the cause, but remarked that she never sees homeless women in her area, only homeless men. I told her I would gladly put those purses to use, so she mailed me some to use in a second round of care packs after christmas. Avoid small clutch bags that won't hold your essentials, and consider staying away from super large or expensive looking bags that might become an obvious target for theft.

Allocating Goods -- I found it best to just lay out items on top of bags before doing any packing. This lets you see how things come together; what you have a lot of, and what you're short on. Don't fret if every package isn't identical. If you run out of lip balm, toss in an extra shampoo or granola bar instead. Figure out if you want to put several tampons in each pack, or just one --allowing you to make a greater number of women's packages overall.

LABELING

If your care packages for men and women do not have obvious visual differences (purse vs. ziploc), you may do well to find a quick way of labeling them. You can apply color coded stickers to the outside of the bag, or simply "man" or "woman" on it with a Sharpie. This way the items go to a person who can use them. A male recipient won't need tampons, and may not think to save them to give to a female friend, so you want to get items like that into the hands of a woman in the first place, if possible.

Step 8: Getting Them Out There

The homeless man I initially spoke with was approachable and friendly, and I felt comfortable asking if he would help me with my mission. We arranged that I would bring him a large bag full of care packages and then he could distribute them within the homeless community, which usually gathers in a particular park. I realize this is a gamble, as some people might keep everything for themselves or try to sell it, but I really believe this guy is interested in doing the right thing and will distribute as intended. Character judgement comes into play here and there's no easy Ible for that --you just have to trust your gut.

*12/26/15 Project Update: I met up with the above mentioned liaison on christmas eve and left him with a large bag full of care packages, which he would distribute in the park later. He had two friends sitting with him at the time, to whom I handed care packages personally. One guy was so excited about the juice box and the nice new T-shirt! They were very grateful, wanted to shake hands, and wished me a merry christmas. While I won't get to see the full effect of the packages on the streets, that little preview felt pretty good.

If you don't have a relationship like this established, you can keep care packages in your car. If you see a homeless person at an intersection, you can roll down your window and give them a package instead of giving cash. I have done this in the past with very good results, and will hold on a few packs to keep in my car this winter.

If you want to help but don't live in an area with an obvious homeless population, or simply don't feel comfortable/ safe with one on one contact, you can still assemble packages for local organizations to distribute. Consider giving them to your local food bank or a women's shelter. People in need will come to these locations, eliminating the need for you to seek them out. A woman in my neighborhood throws a party on her lawn every christmas and has a big donation bin for a local shelter. If I have packages left over from my one on one distribution, I'll deposit them there.

Step 9: DO IT!

I've entered this project in the Homemade Gifts contest for visibility. While I always appreciate votes, what is most important to me is that you DO this project. SHARE this project. Make this your next classroom project, scout troop/ club activity, or personal good deed of the year. Too late for x-mas? Do it for Valentines Day, St. Patrick's, Easter, or just because. I'd like to see this happening in communities all over, so if you make a care package for someone less fortunate (even just one person), tell me what you put in it or post a photo in the comments.

Thanks!

<p>Thanks for the help! I was planning to do this when I got older and had a job, but I saw this idea on another website called dosomething.org and my birthday was coming up, so I decided it was the perfect time. I ended up making twenty bags.</p>
<p>Wonderful! Thank you for putting such great energy into this. I'm in the process of moving and recently donated all my ready made bags to an advocacy group to make space in my car. I'm glad there are others out there keeping the good will going while I'm on hiatus :) Happy early birthday!</p>
Thanks! I really enjoyed making them
<p>ashleyjlong, I saw this instructable in the other contest and as I said before I am glad you are doing your part helping the homeless. The planning, packaging and unisex of each homeless kit is nicely done. This month I am looking at emergency kits due to a tornado touching down on the Army base which is only one mile away, the storm went over my housing area and landed in the middle of the base. Your idea to make small kits came to mind to help out the families that lost their post housing and also for my family in case of an emergency. Good luck in this contest.</p>
<p>Thank you for your well wishes again. I'm glad you ended up safe and are able to help those in the base who weren't so lucky. I'm sure you've got some handy items in mind to build on this kit idea. My #1 suggestion for any families with children is to include a stuffed animal. Doesn't have to be anything big or fancy --sometimes pharmacy toy aisles have good deals on multiple plush toys. They bring so much comfort when you've lost all your normal surroundings and just want something to hold that is &quot;yours&quot;. </p>
That is a great idea. I don't know why I did not think about a small toy or small stuff animal. Well you raised the bar on your kits to mental and spiritual wellness. Thanks
<p>Thanks for posting this as an Instructable, Ashley. Perhaps it will help more people decide, &quot;I can do this!&quot; and get them out there and involved. I'd like to offer a few additional suggestions from the experience my wife and I have had doing the same sort of thing:</p><p>1. Think about distributing items at times other than major holidays. There seem to be a good number of people/organizations/shelters etc. who do things for Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter - but once the holiday is over it pretty much disappears. How about the middle of August, when there are no holidays? If you want to put together a dinner, how about a couple of weeks before or after Thanksgiving rather than the week of thanksgiving? When we lived in San Diego we used to walk our dogs in a local park and got to meet many of the homeless who made the park their home. A week or so after Thanksgiving we'd prepare an entire Thanksgiving dinner at home, schlep it all down to the park and invite everyone to come have dinner with us. We would always have people telling us that it was easy for them to find a good meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas - but not so much at other times - so they really appreciated it.</p><p>2. We've always kept a change jar in our home to empty the coins out of our pockets. Whenever the jar gets full, we take it and buy $1 certificates at McDonalds or 7-11 or other similar places. Then we keep those with us and hand them out to people. They are truly appreciated - and people can use them to buy whatever they may happen to need at the moment. I used to get a bunch of $5 credit card-type gift certificates from 7-11 and when I encountered someone at a stop light, I'd roll down the window, hand them a card and tell them, &quot;There's five bucks on that&quot;. They always understood and often reacted like they had just hit the lottery. Note: be sure that whatever store you're handing out a coupon for is within easy walking distance of where you hand it out. If the nearest McDonalds is a couple of miles away it's doubtful that the person you're giving the gift to will often get there.</p><p>3. If you have kids or grandkids, take them along if you're going out to distribute stuff. Near a local shelter is always a good place to find lots of people at the same location. This is how both our granddaughters discovered that homeless people are real people - and they truly enjoyed the experience.</p><p>Thanks again, keep up the good work, and</p><p>Peace,</p><p>Radical Geezer</p>
<p>Thanks so much for your great suggestions! The gift card and coupon approach is definitely very useful and easy to have at the ready while driving. I may use that in the future as there is a McDonalds in the area where I see a lot of homeless folks.</p><p>I definitely hear you about the drop off in help when it isn't a holiday. People get into the donating spirit around christmas and then feel they've done their good deed for the year. That's why having a few of these in my car at all times is great. I can always do a little something for someone and the hard work is already done. I plan to make a &quot;summer pack&quot; in the coming months. LA gets miserably hot in late summer and the needs of the homeless change. Bottled water, sunscreen, and sunglasses can help make being outdoors less dangerous.</p>
<p>Just wonderful Ashley! This is so lmportant,we often get wrapped up in our daily lives ,that we often forget that someone out there needs our help and it doesn't have to cost a lot ,but it means a lot. Thank you ! Julia </p>
<p>Thanks! Once people hand out a few packages they'll be hooked on the feeling of helping. Hopefully this project inspires good deeds to pop up all over the place.</p>
<p>Congratulations Ashley~ I loved this tutorial~ Looking forward to seeing more of your super awesome tutorials~ Thanks so much for sharing and have a happy 2016~</p><p>sunshiine~</p>
<p>ashleyjlong, I am glad you are doing your part helping the homeless. In the military we often helped the villages we deployed to with food, water, clothes, etc... We often would go with our Chaplain to the poor areas and hand out the items. I like that you thought carefully what to put into your zip-lock bags and that you also made them unisex. I also liked that you gave yourself a timeline to keep you on track. Good job. </p>
<p>Thanks for your comments, and for the kind works you were involved in overseas. I found this project very rewarding and I'm sure you know the feeling after doing it firsthand. </p>
ashleyjlong, no problem and good luck in the contest.
<p>This is a great idea-- Best wishes to you! Here are a few more items that can be very useful &gt;For the first aid kit, packets of cortisone cream. Shelters are full of bed bugs and body lice which inflict very itchy bites. Scratching can cause open sores which invite infection, and cortisone really helps. Also great for badly chapped lips and skin. &gt;Cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly stored in a small ziplock or clean Rx bottle. Great for dry chapped skin, and when the salve is pretty well used up, the cotton balls are excellent fire starters for cooking and warmth. &gt; A small mirror. An old powder compact with the empty make-up pan removed is good, or an altoids tin with a mirror glued to the inside of the lid. Some handy things to put inside would be bobby pins, safety pins, a pre-threaded sewing needle, some extra thread or waxed dental floss wrapped around a small piece of card , a few buttons. Whatever will fit. Secure pins, sewing needle and buttons to the inside with a bit of tape. &gt;10-12' of good tough string from the hardware or farm store. &gt;Reading glasses. Some dollar stores have these for a dollar and they are easy to find at thrift stores. &gt; A few jump rings, binder clips or small caribiners-endlessly useful! &gt;Handi-Wipes or similar-they are reusable, they dry fast and fold small. &gt;Dry laundry detergent--double bag it!! or pour it into an empty water bottle or other small plastic container with a secure screw-on lid. &gt;Emery boards. Shared nail clippers can transmit blood-borne pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis C. Emery boards can keep nails in check without that risk. &gt;Make-up samples, because a little pride can go a long way! </p><p>Shelters and service groups serve people year 'round. They often receive plentiful donations around the winter holidays, but supplies can get pretty thin during the warm weather months. </p>
<p>Great suggestions --especially the cortisone cream and emery boards! I'm distributing a few purses right now and included safety pins and makeup samples. I get a lot of freebies that are too dark for me but would work on a lot of other people. Thanks for your tips!</p>
<p>Having once worked at Social Services and visiting the &quot;tent camps&quot;, I applaud your efforts! More importantly for getting the message out! </p><p>There is a backpack drive twice a year for the homeless at our local Social Services through Adult Services. Many homeless can give their local Social Services as their address thus being able to receive their checks or ebt cards <u>if</u> they have applied. We don't give money. Twenty dollars to one can help so many more with your ideas.</p><p>If someone is leary of approaching a homeless person, check with your local agencies, or police stations, also some religious organizations have outreach ministeries. We have one law enforcement agency always trying to move the homeless, yet another wanting them to stay where they are living. We live in a rural area.</p><p> Most kids get new backpacks for school yearly. We find them in yard sales. Sometimes explaining what we need the backpacks for, encourages the seller to either give them for free, or at a ridiculously low price. Backpacks allow the individual to remain easily mobile. </p><p>Some other ideas are visiting Harbor Freight and getting their free flashlights when they have the coupons, adding 20-30' of paracord or clothesline so clothes can be hung up and either dried or provide some privacy is always welcomed with the 99 cent tarps also found at HF. I see more vets adopting homeless dogs, a gallon ziplock bag will hold a week or two of dry dog food. Anyone spending time in the hospital will often have bags and bottles of hygiene items, even waterless shampoos and bath wipes. Housekeeping has to throw everything away that is left in the room. Anything unopened can be given away to the homeless.</p><p>And in our area, we have many educated individuals who lost everything. A copy of simple knots on one or two pages sometimes helps those who don't know how to tie knots, even a paperback novel has been welcomed.</p><p>We are blessed to live in a textile community and have several sock outlets. We try to get the most wool socks we can afford. (There are reasons not to wear cotton when hiking) In lieu of Chapstick and lotion, both necessary of course, we will sometimes add a small travel jar of Vaseline for its many uses. As well as individual flavorings for water and powder we usually use gold bond but baby powder would work as well.</p><p>There are also homeless children. Find out if the groups you are helping has any. There is no law that I am aware requiring children to have a roof over their head. There are laws requiring them to be educated. During school hours they can be warm or cool and have a couple meals. When school is out, the concerns multiply.</p><p>People should also be aware that some agencies who offer shelter for the homeless have very strict rules. A person needs to arrive at the shelter at a certain time and leave in the morning after breakfast, usually by 8:00am. The shelters can't hold everyone, and not everyone can meet their guidelines.</p><p>Sorry for my ramblings, you did a fantastic instructible!</p>
<p>Thank you for the ramblings! I've been happy that this Ible has generated so much discussion and so many useful ideas for expanding on care packs. Your suggestion to gather the Harbor Freight freebies is a great one --we get their ads all the time and it's pretty amazing what they just give away.</p><p>Homeless pets are something I have considered in some of my packages, though usually when i know a particular person with a dog that hangs out in the same spot all the time. The man who helped me distribute packages has a little terrier and I gave them a week's worth of foil food trays as a thank you. He told me there is a group who comes to the park once a month that will bathe pets and do basic vet care for free. Nice to know those resources are out there.</p>
<p>I have several suggestions:</p><p>1. I would still add the first aid supplies but not the medicine. There are laws, and the meds may be abused(I am not saying this is all homeless, but there is that very small chance)</p><p>2. Canned soup and vegetables are extremely inexpensive and provide a full meal(In the soup's case). Add a can or two of these and a spoon.</p><p>3. Put the supplies in reusable totes/bags. They are much more useful than ziplocs and can cost as little as $0.35 a bag ( example: </p><p><a>https://www.discountmugs.com/category/reusable-grocery-bags/?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=cpc&amp;utm_term=reusable%20bags%20bulk&amp;utm_content=89682888141&amp;utm_campaign=(2013)+Bags&amp;mm_campaign=5240BD079F071097F942AE10B4D031E2&amp;mm_keyword=reusable%20bags%20bulk&amp;utm_device=c&amp;gclid=CN6WyNDtpcoCFc9gfgodEaoAbQ</a> )</p><p>4. THE DOLLAR TREE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. You can get cheap hand sanitizers and all the other toiletries, pads, pencils and notebooks(So the homeless can make signs and have something to do when bored. They have reusable water bottles to hold water. They have EVERYTHING!</p><p>5. A small light for the nighttime should be added. They're cheap and provide safety and comfort at night.</p><p>6. A watch. Knowing the time is comforting. You can get watches for under $2.</p><p>7. Any spare supplies or items you may have that could be useful.</p><p>You can add these to your instructable. I have voted because it was great. And definitely put something about the dollar tree in there. I recently went there for pens and they have everything on your list. Great job, and thank you for helping the homeless.</p>
<p>Nice tips. Would not have thought of flashlight/watch.</p>
<p>Thank you</p>
<p>Yes! The dollar store is where I got most of this stuff. I did mention it in regard to the toothbrush kits and the socks. Lights and notepads are great suggestions and I will try to incorporate those when i have a moment to build a new section. I agree that reusable totes would be great and did consider those, though I was unable to find any cost effective options (that was one thing that for some reason my dollar store didn't have). One user below suggested a bulk order of backpacks, which would also be excellent. Thanks for all your insights and for the vote. This is certainly an idea that can be modified and expanded upon by every user!</p>
<p>I just realized I said: &quot;You can add these to your instructable.&quot; I did not mean to put that, as it is commanding and rude. I meant to say: &quot;You can add these to your instructable if you want.&quot; I apologize for my mistake.</p>
<p>No problem. I just took it to mean I had your permission to add the ideas :)</p>
<p>Thank you so very much for this information. I am the one you spoke about having a great deal of stuff an no clue how to distribute it. I spent over $400 dollars just before Christmas and have two closets full of boxes of stuff for homeless vets and had someone that was going to help me get it out there. That fell by the wayside. Now I know what to do and I am going to break it down to smaller pkgs and help more people, not just the vets. I was waiting for some can openers that I ordered that never arrived at all so I am just going to get things out there this weekend. Thank you so much.</p>
<p>I'm glad you have a plan for all your loot! Sometimes you just have to move forward, whether everything came together the way you wanted or not. I had a friend who was going to send me her old purses to make packs for women and i just received them TODAY! Way too late for the original project, so now i'll just do a second round.</p>
This is great and i will definitely do this. I wanted to add that i saw a friend take his leftovers from a restaurant we were at and instead of taking them home, he left the container next to a sleeping homeless man that definitely needed it more than my friend did. This was very inspirational to me and something i had never thought of before.
<p>I didn't make myself clear: stuff like the bandaids and wipes contain as many as 50 in a box. You don't get 50 hats for 99 cents. </p>
<p>The chain &quot;99 Cents Only&quot; carries a lot of name brand stuff like Curad band aids, packs of alcohol wipes, Bayer aspirin, soap, scissors, pens, gloves, knit caps, etc. There are enough in each box to break it up into 4-5 groups of 5-10 each. It's a good place to get a little first aid and toiletry items for a homeless person and saves you money.</p><p>It's the best place I've found, better quality merchandise if you look around than most stores and definitely better quality goods than most mom &amp; pop thrift stores out here in California.</p>
<p>Dollar stores have 4'x5' flannel &quot;throws&quot;, and they will fit into a gallon Ziploc along with other items. These are great because they can be wrapped around the feet &lt;i&gt;or&lt;/i&gt; the head, or if you curl up they can cover your other blanket and give so much extra warmth while sleeping.</p><p>I use my dollar store and the many freebies I receive through the mail in my packages. A friend chides me for this, but I also include several Ramen flavoring packs and fast food sauces for just mixing with hot water for broth and calories. I've been destitute before, and those broth packets gave me my only calories between paychecks.</p>
<p>Thanks for your insights, Harriet. The dollar store fleece throws are an excellent add on. As mentioned in the &quot;warmth&quot; section, they can also be cut into 3rds to create fleece scarves. I have one blanket in my passenger seat right now that is waiting for me run across the right person.</p><p>I'm glad you mentioned the condiment packets. A neighborhood lady gave me a bunch of ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce packs, but I wasn't quite sure whether this was useful. It seemed pretty obvious she had just cleaned out a drawer in her fridge, and some of the packages were pretty icky. I saved the clean, non-sticky ones and now that i know these ARE something a person would use, I will incorporate them into a future round of packages.</p>
<p>this was so nice to read and it made me feel good just knowing that there are people who care about others. We are all gods children and need to take care of each other. </p><p>Thank you</p>
<p>Well done! We do this with back packs we buy 50 at a time online for 3$ each.</p><p>The homeless seem to like the back packs and the goodies. Giving them cash is not good in some cases. https://www.facebook.com/BackpacksforHomelessVeteransGeorgia/</p>
<p>God Bless your heart! Well done! This is a hands on approach to giving. I commend you for taking action. You are a source of inspiration to others.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>I LOVE this idea, and I applaud the concept. Just a note of caution -- many states have laws concerning the distribution of drugs or medications by an unlicensed person, YES, even if they are very basic over-the-counter things like aspirin, etc. I strongly recommend you check this out. It also is sometimes fodder for expensive lawsuits, should someone have a reaction to some seemingly harmless medication.</p><p>Sadly, the grinches of our world seem to be personally offended by our willingness to help folks who are in deep trouble. There are MANY municipalities now that ticket or arrest people for helping or feeding the &quot;homeless.&quot; Apparently &quot;it only encourages them.&quot; (Grrrrr!) </p><p>Please know that I am NOT suggesting we not do anything -- just a note of caution so the &quot;others&quot; can't interfere.</p>
<p>A very valid point. I did wonder about this myself and definitely stayed away from anything too specific or advanced. Next time I talk to the lady I know who deals with homeless female veterans regularly I will ask if she knows more about this topic. When in doubt, at least the band aids are good to go!</p>
<p>You are a tribute to your community. What a wonderful thing to do, especially in these times where once again we are faced with the facts trickle down economics never works and has only encouraged the second Great Depression.</p><p>It used to be people needing help were mos;ty those having drinking or other problems. But currently there are a lot of learned people out of work. They all need out help until a real economic upswing occurs.</p>
what an amazing applaudable idea to help someone, well done you for your selflessness, I am going to do something similar to that now myself. thankyou x
<p>Great idea here, I see that many people agree (SMILE). I would like to challenge everyone here, instead of agreeing and doing nothing. Follow the plan above and step up in your area to help those in need. Be it through something like this, or giving money to shelters to assist the homeless. </p><p>Work with your local government, get them to build or rehab housing in the area that is not in use to help the homeless. This can be done, we are a great nation and together we can solve all of our issues if we truly make it important to ourselves.</p>
<p>You can also google Standdown, and you will find many organizations that aid homeless veterans.</p>
<p>Bravo!! I have been doing something similar at Christmas time. I buy the items throughout the year and make up bags to hand out. This year I also carried small bags of dog food as well. It is really rewarding to remember the homeless and many of them are veterans.</p>
<p>I'm wondering if there is anything that would be especially appreciated by our homeless veterans, other than what's already been mentioned. I know there are a lot of veterans living on the streets, and I'd love to be able to include something that would be meaningful and helpful to them.</p>
Pull tab cans of soup and a plastic spoon are going in my kits. I never thought about first aid. That's a great thing to add.
<p>So wonderful! Everybody! Awesome ideas! Great tips!</p>
<p>Ashley, your kindness and compassion brightened my day. Now it's everyone's turn to think and do more for others.</p>
<p>Thank you for reading, and for your comment. My mom taught me about giving to others at a young age and I'm glad to see so many people excited about participating and teaching the people around them.</p>
<p>Bravo! A very simple project that we all can do. I'll make some packs and keep them in my car. I live in a cold climate so I'll have to search for sweatshirts to include. <br>Thanks for the inspiration!</p>
<p>Thank you for reading and participating! Sweatshirts are a wonderful idea. A friend of mine buys a few sweaters/ sweatshirts every time she stops at Goodwill and keeps them in her car to give to people she sees. Might be worth keeping an eye out for thrift store sale days! SoCal Goodwill seems to have a $3 clothing sale once a month these days.</p>
<p>Glad to see you included socks. In fact, during these winter time, I would add as many pairs as possible. Nothing is more comforting than dry socks on a wet winter day. Kudos to you! </p>
<p>Thank you! Yes --colder climates with snow could definitely merit a change of socks, or a second pair to double up. Even in more temperate weather, who doesn't love the soft feel of new socks? :)</p>

About This Instructable

20,293views

253favorites

License:

Bio: I'm an animation director by day and Queen of the monsters by night. I picked up most of my costume and prop building skills ... More »
More by ashleyjlong:How to Do a Color Melt  Naughty Garden Gnome Mod Kidney Disease Care package 
Add instructable to: