Americans need “You” to Donate

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By Natasha Persaud

Sometimes it’s easier saying, “Well I don’t know what to donate.” And other times we look through the junk hidden at the back of our closets and think, my 1970’s parachute pants have a couple more years, why not donate them? However, there are useful items shelters need that are practical and necessary.

1. No, your dirty socks that are one thread away from revealing a toe is not exactly donation material. But clean socks are always needed as well as toothbrush, combs, razors, lotion, shampoo and all essential everyday hygiene products.

2. Reading material. And I am not talking about porn or Harlequin romance novels. Old (fairly recent) magazines that you are ready to toss out are always welcomed. Many shelters are understocked when it comes to good educational reading. Donate self-help books, computer programing books, books that will enable others to garner skills they will need to survive in today’s technological world.

3. Pledge your birthday. There is a growing trend which came about with the organization Charity Water. You can pledge your birthday and instead of receiving birthday presents, you will receive money that will be donated in your name. Now for those of us who want an alternate option, you can pledge part of your birthday. At the Hoboken shelter it takes approximately $300.00 to feed the guests for one meal.

4. Don’t have money? You have got the next best thing: yourself. Walk into a shelter and help. Every person has the potential to give his or her time which is priceless. (Face it: looking at puppies, cats, and liking Facebook photos of people in need can only be stimulating for so long.)

5. Moving? Donate unwanted furniture, cookware, and other household items. The shelter is not a permanent solution. It is a system set up to help situate people into stable homes with jobs aiming to help them maintain a self-sufficient life. However, those starting over are moving into empty apartments; no bed, sofas, dining room sets, nothing but what they have accumulated and were able carry daily. Ask your local shelter if they are in need of anything before tossing it.

6. Do you have a skill set that is essential and teachable? Share it. The face of homelessness is changing; many people have been displaced due to the economic crisis, a failed system, or other circumstances. Your knowledge can help change the situation of a person’s life.

7. Outdated technology. Some shelters are not running on the most advanced systems. VHS and old DVD’s might still be of use, so donate them.

8. Transportation tickets. It is a common misconception that homeless people have nowhere to go. Many are constantly moving from shelter to shelter for food, to visit family, doctors, welfare, sleeping, the reasons are endless. Some walk miles each day or others choose to chance it and sneak onto light rails or trains.

9. Lastly, money. Everyone needs money.

However, it is crucial that you do not show up to a shelter assuming that they have storage or are in need of the objects listed here. Call ahead and inquire about the items you are donating.