The little things

Aurora, OH – Cleveland, OH, 19.3 miles

Poverty and homelessness are large problems. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t small things everyone can do to make a difference. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Donate food, toiletries, clothing, and household items to a local shelter, food pantry or organization that benefits those who are homeless or poor. And, beyond just donating your old, worn-out clothing, consider donating items that someone could wear to a job interview.
  • Organize a food drive or walk to benefit organizations that support affordable housing or emergency shelters.
  • Volunteer. Organizations from Habitat for Humanity to your local shelter are in need of volunteers. To help build or fix up houses or shelters, check with your local public housing authority, or find the nearest chapter of Habitat for Humanity visit www.habitat.org
  • Vote. Support elected officials who stand behind affordable housing and a living wage. And support projects in your community that increase access to affordable housing and good jobs.
  • Be aware of local laws that make crimes out of being homeless and take steps to change them. Laws that prevent people from loitering, eating or sleeping in public, sitting in certain areas among other discriminatory laws are detailed in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless: Homes Not Handcuffs: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities.
  • Support local businesses. A thriving local economy means more jobs and a solid tax base to fund everything from education and public transportation to subsidized housing and mental health programs.
  • Get involved with a local street newspaper. Street newspapers educate the general public about homelessness while providing people experiencing homelessness with a creative outlet to have their articles, photos, artwork, and poetry published and providing employment opportunities as vendors and writers. To get in touch with the street newspaper nearest you or to get help in establishing a newspaper in your community,  contact the North American Street Newspaper Association, www.nasna.org

Of course there are many other ways large and small that you can make a difference. I know how easy it can be to get caught up in everyday life and forget how important it is to lend a helping hand to others. So take this opportunity to spend even five minutes to do something large or small to help someone in need.

–By Jennifer E. Cooper