written by: Ashley Cross, PLPC
December is often recognized as a time for giving back to your community. Whether a person celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or they choose not to celebrate holidays, the spirit and season of giving surrounds all of us. As the weather gets colder, people start cuddling up with blankets by the fireplace sipping hot cocoa. One thing that is easy to forget when we are nice and warm is that there are people living on the streets who don’t get to have those luxuries.
When thinking about how to give back this season, try thinking of ways you can give to the homeless community as the weather becomes colder and more bitter. There are many easy ways to help someone out.
One thing that you can do is have care kits available in your car. These can include cheap items such as:
- Hand warmers
- Ear Muffs/Ear warmers
Care kits can have other items in them that aren’t specific to winter. If someone is living on the streets, they often lack necessities that someone else might take for granted, such as hygiene items. Check out this list from Portland Rescue Mission for other items you can include in a care kit to give to the homeless.
If you’re wanting to help out with bigger items, you can always donate items such as:
- Any type of warm weather clothing, such as long sleeved shirts, pants, long underwear, leggings, etc.
There are many places in Kansas City that accept donations. Thrift stores are great places to donate to, but there are also local churches and other services that will take donations. Some places are able to provide free items for the homeless population. Look here for a list of where you can donate items in Kansas City.
Make it fun!
If you are a crafty person, and know other crafty people, a fun way to get involved is to have crochet/knitting parties. If you have spare yarn floating around, you can get friends together to make scarves, hats, etc. It not only brings you closer to people with shared interests, but it is also an inexpensive way to create warm gear to donate.
Getting your kids involved can also help to teach them about giving back to the community. It is an easy way to teach them that this season isn’t just about receiving gifts, but it’s also about giving. Take them to the dollar store to pick out items to include in care kits, and have them help you put the kits together! Your child will likely feel proud that they were able to help someone in need and empower them to continue giving back to the community.
A way to give back this season is to volunteer in activities that benefit the homeless. One such way is called Free Hot Soup. Ashton Kleekamp, a recent graduate from UMKC, is an active volunteer for Free Hot Soup in Kansas City. She says they “provide our friends with food, love, and items to help them survive the elements.” If someone would like to join to provide free hot soup to Kansas City’s homeless population, they can look up the group Free Hot Soup KC on Facebook, answer a series of questions to be accepted into the group, and then choose the park at which they would like to volunteer. Ashton states that each park goes out on different days and a person can choose which options suits them best.
Whether or not you participate in the holiday season, it is important to remember the cold season. Helping the homeless population through the cold months is a meaningful way to give back and feel the spirit of the giving season.
Ashley Cross, PLPC is a recent graduate of UMKC. She works with children, couples, families, and individual adults to help them build a strong support system, feel encouraged and become their best selves. Ashley has several years of experience working with children and adolescents on the Autism spectrum as an ABA therapist. She take a person-centered approach to therapy and believes that helping a person to utilize their strengths can lead to effective problem-solving and healing.
Kleekamp, A. (2018, December 9). Free Hot Soup KC [Online interview].
McNamara, J. (n.d.). Kansas City free clothing closets and thrift stores. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/kansas_city_clothing_closets_a.html
Pack A Care Kit. (2017, June 14). Retrieved December 1, 2018, from https://www.portlandrescuemission.org/get-involved/learn/pack-a-care-kit/