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Put Old Gear To Good Use: Donate To The Homeless

There are tens of thousands of homeless people struggling to survive, while you are hopefully lucky enough to be sleeping warmly and comfortably in your bed. Most of those people are unsheltered, while another part of that population is in a shelter or transitional housing.

However, most shelters are full, meaning that many people need to take refuge under bridges, in cars or behind dumpsters and have to deal with the wet and cold weather without any means of protection. They do not own a warm coat, blanket or sleeping bag. Therefore, a lot of homeless people will succumb to injuries or illnesses caused or worsened by exposure to environmental toxins and harsh weather. Unfortunately, a great number of homeless people die each year from exposure to the elements, especially during winter. Homeless individuals depend on decent winter gear for survival.

However, most shelters are full, meaning that many people need to take refuge under bridges, in cars or behind dumpsters and have to deal with the wet and cold weather without any means of protection. They do not own a warm coat, blanket or sleeping bag. Therefore, a lot of homeless people will succumb to injuries or illnesses caused or worsened by exposure to environmental toxins and harsh weather. Unfortunately, a great number of homeless people die each year from exposure to the elements, especially during winter. Homeless individuals depend on decent winter gear for survival.

If you have recently purchased or received some new winter gear, now is a great time to spread the cheer and donate to others in need. The homelessness problem is not going away anytime soon, but there are things you can do to help someone survive this winter season. Any old gear you might have lying around, including sleeping bags, hats, tents or coats can mean the difference between illness, death, and survival to someone sleeping out in the cold.

Identify gear you can donate

A lot of things in your closet are candidates for donation. Anything from the old scarf you haven’t worn in forever, the ski jacket that has gone out of style to those mittens you’ve never worn. A general rule of thumb is to donate what you’d like to receive. Giving doesn’t mean throwing out things that are broken or torn, it means rounding up the things that may be a bit worn, out of style or that don’t fit you but are still in good condition.

What you can donate

At the top of the list is anything that would keep a person warm and dry, and make their days and nights more comfortable. Any gear that’s specific to a sport, such as skis, baseball mitts and the like are better suited for donation to a second-hand or consignment shop.

When looking for what to donate, think of what would help a person survive the night. Some of these items include: boots, wool socks, puffy jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves or mittens, tents, sleeping bags, base layers, athletic shoes, tarps and flashlights.

How you can donate

There are three main ways to get your old things out there and help someone in need.

  1. Visit the National Coalition for the Homeless shelter and organization directory. You will find hundreds of contacts around the country showing where you can drop off your gear.
  2. Locate homeless shelters in your city. Most likely they will accept your gear donations, plus show you how to get more involved if that’s something you’re interested in doing.
  3. Engage with individuals. If you encounter a homeless person that looks cold or shivering, ask them if they are in need of a coat, blanket or warm gloves.

Whatever you can donate is appreciated, every little bit helps!

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