What do I do when approached by a man or woman facing homelessness? Should I give them money?
You can donate to Portland Rescue Mission, where your money will go to provide the help and support men, women and children need to get off the streets. You can also create Care Kits to hand out to someone you meet.
Care Kits are a simple way to provide practical help to a man or woman facing homelessness. These are a great resource to keep in your car. Watch the HOW TO PACK A CARE KIT video above and download your FREE INFOGRAPHIC: 5 Things a Homeless Person Could Use.
ITEMS YOU CAN INCLUDE:
A typical Care Kit consists of a watertight gallon-size plastic bag filled with items such as:
- Water bottles
- Soft granola Bar or cereal bar
- Fruit snack or applesauce cup
- Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
- Gift certificate to fast food
- Hand wipes
- Pack of Kleenex
- Maxi pads
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Nail clippers
- Band Aids
- Comb or small brush
- Mints, cough drops or gum
- Rescue Mission meal voucher
- Note of encouragement
- Care Kits are useful both in warm and cold weather. In summer, include sunblock or frozen water bottles. In winter, include gloves, hats or heat packs.
- Fragranced items such as soap, hand lotion or deodorant can negatively affect the taste of food items if placed in the same bag. Pack these separately if you choose to give them.
- Soft snacks are best. Since many men and women experiencing homelessness don’t have access to dental care, soft foods are gentler on teeth and gums.
- Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer that contain alcohol.
- Have a Care Kit party! Gather family, friends, co-workers or your community group to purchase supplies and assemble Care Kits together.
When you give your Care Kits away…
- Don’t be in a hurry. It’s okay to slip it out your window to someone on a street corner or freeway ramp, but If you are able to hand-deliver, take a moment to talk with the person.
- A smile and eye contact go a long way in connecting with someone and making them feel valuable.
- Don’t give money. It’s your decision, of course, but we generally discourage giving cash. Instead, ask what their immediate need is and consider how you can help. Buy them a meal? A bus ticket?
- Be available. Your time and a listening ear can make someone feel valued, appreciated and even loved.
- If prayer is part of your life, ask the person if they would like you to pray for them right there.
- Offer resources. Ask if the person knows about Portland Rescue Mission. Be sure they know about meals, shelter, restrooms and other emergency services. Our Guest Relations staff can often help guide a person to other social services they may not know about. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE INFOGRAPHIC. We’ve included resources cards for you to include in your kits.
- Be Safe.The majority of homeless men and women are not dangerous, but be safe. It’s smart to go out as a group when handing out Care Kits.
- Inspire others. Share your story of handing out Care Kits with us. Email us at [email protected]
Melody Song embraced the idea of care kits so much so that she started a community service group that focuses on making kits and sharing them around Portland.
Often Melody’s Angels can be found handing out sandwiches on the streets or serving dinner at Portland Rescue Mission. They have made hundreds of care kits including socks, water, treats and other toiletries. Before packing their kits, Melody’s Angels meets together in the conference room at Melody’s work. They spread out notecards, markers and stickers and make sure that each bag includes an inspirational and encouraging note. “We want them to know that we care,” said Melody. READ MORE ABOUT MELODY’S ANGELS.