Certain household items can be difficult to recycle, so consider donating them to a local homeless shelter.

homeless.jpg There are hundreds of thousands of homeless adults across the country, many with kids. A government report found that nearly one in 30 children will be homeless each year – that’s 2.5 million kids. Adult homeless populations have risen dramatically due in part to the number of veterans returning from active duty and the residual financial crisis, which left the middle class broke and the poor even worse off. With winter around the corner, it’s imperative that people donate much-needed items to shelters and nonprofits supporting homeless citizens. What are the best items to donate to those in need? Read on to find out.

Socks and Shoes

Socks are the most requested item in shelters across the country. Many homeless people walk miles per day in order to survive, leaving their socks threadbare and damp. Make sure to donate clean, newly purchased socks for both adults and children. A few dollars out of your pocket could mean the world to someone with cold feet. Additionally, shoes are always in demand. Clean out your closet and donate a few pairs when you drop off the socks.

Sleeping bags/mats/blankets

Unfortunately, many homeless shelters cannot offer beds to sleep in at night – some may offer a pad to sleep on in a large room full of people, or a sleeping bag for those who must brave the elements and sleep outside. Many people have old blankets that are not being used; put them to good use by donating them to a shelter. Sleeping bags are also greatly appreciated as it may mean the difference between life and death out in the cold.

Personal care items

Almost all shelters request personal care items, from toothpaste to feminine care products to soap. A great way to get personal care items meant for donation is to be coupon savvy. Nearly all stores feature some kind of deal on basic necessities, and the Internet can find you coupons, too. Combine these two together to score huge savings and get personal care products to those in need.

Toys

The vision of children in homeless shelter is not a pretty one, but, unfortunately, it’s very real. Chronic homelessness can be very difficult for kids, and could affect their performance at school, self-esteem and health. If you have toys lying around that your children no longer want or need, considering donating them. It’s an excellent teaching moment for your kids and an even more excellent opportunity to bring a smile to a homeless child’s face.

Reading Glasses

Most people buy their cheater reading glasses off a kiosk in the drug store – they are needed by many for minor eyesight issues. Lots of shelters ask for new or used reader and prescription glasses. Many of those in the homeless community are in desperate need of an optometrist, and your donated cheaters could potentially help in a big way.

Clothes

We all clean our closets out at least a couple of times per year – why not donate your old clothes to those who may need them most? There is always a large demand for clothing items of all types and sizes and anything helps. With cold weather approaching in many parts of the country, most shelters are focusing on collecting sweaters and coats. Remember that many homeless must sleep outside, even in the coldest parts of the year. Your old coat could save a life.

Towels

Homeless shelters are always in need of towels, from washcloths to bath sheets. If you have some gently used or nearly new towels that don’t match your décor, the shelter is a great place to drop them off. Small cloth towels are perfect for washing faces, while older towels may be used to help keep facilities clean. If you want to earn bonus points, head to the local big box store and buy a couple packages of new wash cloths. They cost next to nothing but make a big difference for those in need.