Every day, homeless children wander the streets or lie in shelters. They wonder if they'll get to use soap in the shower. They wonder where their next meal is coming from - if there is one. They also wonder if people like you and me even care. Show them you care by taking the time to donate low-cost items. Most areas have programs that serve homeless youth. It only takes a small amount of time and money to give something that could mean a great deal to a child.
Do you have soap for your shower every day? Unfortunately, some people do not - even children. A simple bar of soap can mean everything to someone who doesn't have this luxury. Dollar stores often sell multi-packs of soap, so stock up and deliver them to your local shelter or homeless aid program.
Shoes and Clothing
Try donating your family's used shoes and clothing. If you don;t have anything that would benefit kids, stop at a local thrift store. They often have sales or prices that will allow you to purchase a large amount for a reasonable price.
Tissue and Baby Wipes
Here again, tissue can be a precious commodity. When donating to shelters, remember that some of the people may need to carry items around all day. Try purchasing small packs of tissues that are easy to carry. Baby wipes are also great, as they are multipurpose. Homeless mothers can use them for their children and homeless youth can use them to keep clean.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Just like soap, shampoo is very important and hard to come by when your income is low. You can find low-cost shampoo at your local dollar store or other discount retailer. It would seem nice to treat the kids to some expensive shampoo. But the lower the cost, the more people you can help. So it's best to keep the price tag low.
Just like anyone else, homeless kids can use lip balm. This is especially true in winter and summer months. In the winter, the icy air dries the lips. In the summer, the harsh sunlight does the same. Choose the lowest cost lip balm with the highest SPF properties.
Hydration Drink Packets
Some hydration drinks now come in powdered form. These need to be mixed with water. These packets are great for homeless children and families. Not only do they help keep them hydrated, but they are very portable. People can carry around a large amount of these without having to lug too much weight. These can be found at many grocers.
Trail mix can be found everywhere now, including the dollar store. It's packed with protein and other nutrients that homeless kids may be lacking. Plus, it's lightweight and very portable. If you choose the right trail mix, some are actually balanced enough to take the place of a meal, if need be. Buy single-serving packets when buying these for homeless kids, as they will be easier to hand out at the shelter.
Now, since homeless kids will be carrying around all their items, they probably don;t want a big pile of books each. However, one or two books each would be extremely beneficial., Sometimes libraries have sales where you can fill a whole bag for a small amount of money. Also, if you have used children's books, consider donating those. Go for lightweight books of varied reading levels.
Bus Tickets or Tokens
Public transportation is likely what a homeless kid is using if they are using any at all. Tokens or tickets can help them get to school, work, or to a shelter. Consider donating bus fare to homeless children. This may cost slightly more than other items on the list. But it will be very valuable.
Reusable Grocery Bags
Sturdy reusable grocery bags can hold a large amount of items and are easy to carry around, This is very helpful to homeless kids, They may need to walk around quite a bit. So their bag needs to be something that holds all their belongings, but is not too hard to carry. Reusable grocery bags can be as little as fifty cents each. The insulated ones are especially nice because they can keep foods fresh and at their temperatures longer. I only paid three dollars each for my insulated ones.
As you are reading this, there are children in America who don't know if they will eat today. How is this possible when America has so many available resources? Are we really using what have to the fullest advantage? Urban gardens are known for reducing hunger. What if we took it a step further and required all schools to have them? Can school garden farms reduce childhood hunger?
Childhood Hunger in America
According to FeedingAmerica.org, 16.7 million American children faced hunger issues in 2008. In a country as abundant as this, why should this be an issue? Rearranging priorities may help. What if schools were required to have garden farms that provided nutrition for the entire neighborhood? This would be a simple program to implement. In fact, there are already grants and other plans in place for those who wish to do so.
Why Create School Garden Farms?
School gardens can help teach kids about agriculture. Giving them a head start in important sustainability lessons may help increase the chance of their success later in life. Schools are often the center of their neighborhood. It's where many events and gatherings take place. The farming could be implemented into the curriculum.
At harvest time for each plant, the kids can divide the crops evenly, according to how many people need them. There will likely be plenty for their families, as well as others in the neighborhood. If various crops are planted according to season, there should be plenty of food year-round. When school is not in session, the garden can still be maintained. This will help make up for the lack of nutrition many people suffer from.
Can School Gardens Really Reduce Childhood Hunger in America?
According to UrbanHarvest.org, community gardens help reduce hunger. Following that pattern, wouldn't it make sense that a school garden could help reduce hunger in children? If the food was distributed evenly to all neighborhood families by default, people may not be so hesitant to take it. Sometimes people are in need, but are embarrassed to admit they need help. Some may not have adequate transportation to get to that help.
By making the community garden a part of the school's curriculum and regular routine, it's possible that childhood hunger could be reduced significantly. Taking away the sometimes grueling application experience and other measures may make this option more desirable for some families. With this type of plan, no one needs to feel left out and no one needs to be put on the spot or labeled.
More on Hunger:
Feeding America Hunger and Poverty Statistics
Urban Harvest on Why Community Gardens are Valuable
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples on Urban Gardens
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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