Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We’re counting down 10 weeks to World Homeless Action Day on October 10th.

This week’s big idea: Make A Care Kit

If you've ever been approached by a homeless man or woman, you may have felt uncomfortable about how to respond when asked for money.  We recommend anticipating these opportunities.  Make some care kits in advance to keep in your vehicle.  These can be a good alternative for situations when giving money isn't the best option.

The following items can be placed in quart- or gallon-size Zip-Lock bags.

  1. Socks
    Homeless men and women spend a lot of time on their feet. A fresh pair of clean, dry socks can feel like heaven on tired, soggy feet.  Throw in some band-aids to help ease the pain of blisters.

  2. Reusable Water Bottle
    Water brings relief, especially in hot weather. But instead of bottled water, consider a reusable bottle as an eco-friendly option.

  3. Lotion
    Lotion and lip balm are often welcome items. Anti-bacterial lotions can help when soap and water aren't available for washing hands.

  4. Soap / Shampoo
    Save the small unopened soap bars and shampoo bottles from your hotel visits. Their compact travel size are convenient and light weight. Larger soap bars are great too. But if you're packing soap in a care kit, be aware that its scent can be absorbed by packaged crackers, making for a less-than-tasty snack.

  5. Toothpaste / Toothbrush

  6. Towel / Washcloth
    Showers aren't easy to come by for homeless men and women.  A towel and washcloth are helpful for washing as best they can in a restroom.

  7. Comb / Brush / Razor
    Contrary to stereotypes, most homeless men and women prefer to stay clean and well-groomed.

  8. Snacks
    Throw in some packets of nuts, crackers, dried fruit, trail mix, granola bars, breakfast bars, instant noodles or other light-weight, quick snacks.

  9. Resource Guide
    Portland has a wide variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. You can request copies of the "Rose City Resource Guide" to hand out with your care kits.  If you're in another city, do some research if a similar guide is available.

  10. Encouragement
    All the items above are helpful, but the most meaningful part of a care kit is the opportunity for a conversation and friendship. Your smile and offer of help could be the encouragement a homeless man or women needs to make it through another day.

What items would you add to this list?


    Anonymous said...

    other potential items in your "care kits"
    -rain poncho
    -fleece headband

    Portland Rescue Mission said...

    Great items to add. The rain poncho would especially be helpful in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for commenting!

    Anonymous said...

    Weather appropriate clothing.

    If the person has one of those "Obama Phones" or pre-paid cell phone, minutes for his phone

    Anonymous said...

    Weather appropriate clothing

    If the person has a pre-paid (or "Obama") cell phone, minutes for his phone