By Kim “Supermutt” Goodman
Fall is here! Cool days, wearing hoodies, eating Halloween candy, drinking apple cider and eating and drinking pumpkin anything. These are my favorite things about fall. Fall may not be a favorite season to many homeless people because fall means colder nights. A lot of homeless people are not able to go out and buy themselves a comfortable hoodie, warmer clothing and a warm blanket.
Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving and then Christmas or Hanukkah/Chanukah if you are Jewish. Holidays are happy times if you have family or people to share it with but it can be very depressing for those who are alone and for those who have lost a loved one. During the holidays many people become cheerful givers. They give for an end of the year tax write off or they give because they feel no one should be without a holiday meal or a gift.
Giving freely from your heart is always a good thing because in return you will be blessed. When donating to the homeless please remember that poverty is a year round occupation year round. Things that are needed year round are underwear, t-shirts, socks and hygiene products especially deodorant. In the fall and during cold weather months is the best time to donate cold weather clothes, hoodies and sweaters. In the winter it is best to donate winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves, boots, thermal underwear and thermal boot socks. Spring is the best time to donate raincoats, umbrellas and light weight tennis shoes. In the summer it is best to donate short sleeve shirts, short pants, sandals and ankle socks.
If you know a homeless person who sleeps outside and don’t use a shelter, drop in center or meal site consider giving them some nontraditional items such as a can opener and some canned goods. It is nice to buy them a hot meal but if you want them to have something to eat later then consider a can of baked beans, some potted meat, Vienna sausages, sardines or a can or pouch of tuna, something that is not perishable. If you buy a homeless person two cooked meals, one for now and one for later sometimes depending on what the food is it might go bad. It is no fun having food poisoning when you are homeless.
During the holidays while you are celebrating with your loved ones take the time to check on or spend a little time with someone who may be alone or someone who has lost a loved one. Instead of just dropping off a plate of food or a gift to the person who is alone consider eating a meal with them even if it is not on the holiday or doing an activity with them of their choosing. Sometimes having someone’s physical presence around can make the person feel less alone. If a person has lost a loved one they may still be grieving. You might not want to listen to the person mourn or you may not understand why the person is still mourning but what the person needs most at this time is to have someone there for them. Someone to listen, someone who seems to understand how they feel or a shoulder to cry on if they need it.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2016 Issue 23.3 Cleveland Ohio