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.
Stacey Carroll - Contributing writer
Living on minimum wage or close to it is nearly impossible. It’s a horrible situation and worse than living paycheck to paycheck because you have to decide whether to eat or pay rent or other utility bills. I know because I lived it, and I am still living it.
At one point in my life, I had a job where I was working 40 hours a week at $8.10 an hour. I was bringing home $998 a month after taxes. That's $12,000 a year or $1,500 a year more than the poverty line for one person. No matter what the government says, I was living in poverty. My rent was $630 a month. My electricity was $120 a month. My cell phone bill was $75 a month, and my internet was $45 a month. That left me with $128 to buy food, essentials, and gas for the month or $32 a week.
Since I lived a mile from work, I put $10 in gas in my car every week for a monthly total of $40. That was enough to get me to and from work. It was not enough to take me anywhere else, so I did all my shopping at work since I worked in a large retail store.
With $20 left for the week, I had to budget for all my essentials. The number one thing I needed for the month was toilet paper, and I spent $6.98 a month on toilet paper. I spent .74 a bottle on shampoo and conditioner, and I needed two bottles of each a month for a total of $2.96. I bought 3-packs of ivory hand soap for .97 cents, and one bottle of dish soap for $1. Both of those items lasted the entire month for a total of $1.97. I bought one tube of toothpaste for the month at $1. I didn't buy laundry soap. I used dish soap to wash dishes and clothes. The total monthly cost of all my essentials was $12.91 or $3.23 a week.
After buying my essentials, I had $16 a week leftover for food. I'd buy a bag of rice for 82 cents, four packages of smoked sausage for $5.56, four cans of pork and beans for $2.60, and six $1 frozen pizzas. I'd eat a pizza for breakfast, skip lunch, and eat either beans and rice for dinner or beans and smoked sausage. It was a total weekly cost of $14.98. I did not buy bread, milk, eggs or cereal. All of those items were too expensive for my budget.
After taxes, my total weekly expenses were $30.63
The Other $2
My budget at the top says that I had $32 a week to spend. Yet, I only spent $30. The other $2 I regularly lent out to my coworkers who had to drive farther or couldn't afford lunch. Two dollars was three quarters of a gallon of gas at the time, and could mean the difference between getting to work on Friday and not getting to work. For others, $2 meant being able to afford lunch. Even though I was struggling to feed myself and get to work, some of my coworkers were worse off.
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