Holiday tips to care for neighbors struggling

Christmas can be a difficult time, even lonely, for those experiencing homelessness

St. John's Ministries has holiday tips to care for neighbors struggling this Christmas season.

The holidays, specifically Christmas, are a joyful time for friends and families — being surrounded by loved ones, sharing stories, receiving and giving gifts and sharing camaraderie with those you love most. However, for those experiencing homelessness, the holidays can be a painful, stressful and lonely time of the year.

Many in our community are struggling to make ends meet due to inflation, rising grocery costs, high gas prices and are no longer able to afford their own living situations.

Those individuals that struggle with any of these situations have a higher probability of becoming homeless if one unfortunate instance were to arise. Here are some practical holiday tips to care for our neighbors sleeping in either of St. John’s Ministries Men’s or Women’s Shelter this holiday season.

Provide a hand up

The term hand up is more valuable than a handout. Those experiencing homelessness oftentimes need someone in their own family to give them an opportunity, which isn’t always possible. Because of that, community members can rise to the occasion and provide a hand up for someone struggling.

People experiencing homelessness feel disconnected from friends and family because they don’t have a place to call “home” for this joyous time of year. Generate a smile by providing a Christmas gift to a guest in shelter this holiday season. A simple gift like a bus pass, gift card or new pair of boots can mean the world to someone who needs to get to work or has cold feet.

Donate clothing or monetary funds

A simple way to make a difference this holiday season is to donate gently used or new clothing, or other items from our monthly wish lists. Men and women in shelter this time of year don’t have the means to purchase a new pair of jeans, winter gloves or jacket, or hand warmers. When a guest requests a pair of boots to replace their tennis shoes with holes, they will know someone in the community cares about them. In addition, 82 percent of every dollar donated goes directly to honoring dignity, restoring hope and creating lasting change for each guest.

Get involved

Finally, if you’re able to volunteer or serve a meal — you will make a difference. Non-profit organizations like St. John’s Ministries need a lot of help this time of year. At St. John’s Ministries, we have many volunteer and meal team opportunities (Men’s Shelter or Women’s Shelter) available. From accepting donations and answering phones at shelter, to building rapport and trust with guests, to serving a warm dinner or breakfast.

However you are able to share your time, talents or treasures — you will make a difference in the life of someone experiencing homelessness or housing instability this Christmas. Thank you for considering the holiday tips above to care for those who need a hand up.

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