When it comes time to make a trip to your local GoodWill or shelter, many people go with some classic staples: Canned goods, gently-used clothing, and school supplies. These items are much needed and appreciated, but there are some other goods and general items that impoverished individuals need direly and rarely receive. If you want to make a bigger difference to your community, try donating some of these items instead of the default ones.
Socks for Soldiers | Especially for those who are in the Middle East, fresh socks are a godsend. Soldiers spend hours at a time on their feet in sweltering heat, and as a result, they wind up wearing holes in their socks in no time. If you want to really make a soldier’s day, consider sending care packages full of fresh, cushioned socks to soldiers deployed from your area. Your local VFW will likely have a list of active duty soldiers you can send the socks to.
Menstrual Products | Homeless shelters treat donations of menstrual products like pure gold. For many experiencing homelessness, basic sanitary needs prove too expensive for them to afford, but you could easily imagine the embarrassment of not having the necessary products to deal with menstruation. Collect coupons and donate such items to your local shelter, Salvation Army, or even homeless-friendly church to make a really impactful difference in the lives of those in need.
Spices | Because of budgetary constraints, most soup kitchens can offer filling and nutritious food with little flavor. Spices, sauces, condiments, and other food tangent products are rare treats for people who rely on the kindness of food banks or benevolent church ladies to prepare them a hot meal.
Business Attire | While many people donate gently used children’s clothing and activewear, fewer people think to donate gently-used work clothes that no longer fit or have gone out of style. For someone making their way out of poverty, their appearance may inhibit their ability to move past an interview and into the job itself. Offering old blazers, pencil skirts, blouses, and trousers may be that last little boost a person needs before they’re sustainably and gainfully employed and no longer reliant on public benefits.
Plain Old Money | It’s not terribly sexy, nor does it make for a good photo-op, but the vast majority of institutions that work with individuals in need would be over the moon to receive regularly scheduled donations on which they can build their budgets. Find a cause that is close to your heart and set up a monthly recurring donation.