3 ways to help the homeless in below freezing weather
It has been a brutally cold start to 2018.
On NYE, every single state (yes, even Hawaii) recorded temperatures below freezing. Yikes. For most of the Midwest and Northeast, temperatures are not going to be bearable any time soon. It’s with gritted teeth and hurried trips between car doors and front doors that many are braving seconds or minutes in the cold. It is sobering to think of people spending days and nights outside in bone-chilling winter weather.
For those experiencing homelessness, these extremely cold temperatures are physically dangerous. When you combine temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit with gusts of wind, the risk for frostbite can occur within 30 minutes. At night, when temperatures dip even lower, this can be deadly.
Luckily, there are a number of resources available to those in need, and helping isn’t hard.
1. Donate old blankets, coats, hats, gloves, boots, hand warmers, etc. to a local organization.
If you live in Columbus, you can donate to The Open Shelter, or find another organization here. If you live somewhere else, check out your city’s website, and look under their resource links for a shelter directory to find an organization working to aid the homeless.
2. Call a hotline.
If you see someone that needs shelter, ask them if they have anywhere to go. If they do, try to help them get there. If not, but you don’t know where they can go, call your city’s homeless resource hotline to find out, and help them get to the nearest shelter. Call 1-888-4-SHELTR (1-888-474-3587) if you are in Columbus. If you’re in Chicago, NYC, Baltimore, DC, or Boston, simply dial 311. If you live in Detroit (like me!) the number is 1-800-274-3583.
3. Keep an extra blanket and supplies in your car.
Remember when fleece tie-end blankets were all the rage? If you still have one of those collecting dust in a closet somewhere, put it in your car so that you have it on hand to give to someone who needs it. While you’re at it, throw in a couple of those sweatshirts that you “are totally going to wear again someday”. You can keep hand-warmers in your glove box, along with some CLIF bars and gift cards to grocery stores or cheap (but filling) restaurants.
JUST REMEMBER –
you won’t miss that blanket, or sweatshirt, or $10, or the 5 minutes you spend locating a shelter. This winter, help out a fellow human. They are worth it.