5 Ways to Give Back With Your Girl During National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month
A warm room. A clean shirt. A fresh meal. Three things you’ve likely had within your grasp today are nothing but a daydream to others. This time of year, we often have excess food and clothing bursting from our shelves, so there’s no better moment to open our hearts and ignite the spirit of giving. Keep reading to discover 5 great ways you and your girl can give back to the most vulnerable members in your community.
Imagine yourself as a fifth-grader without a safe home to sleep in at night. How would this impact your ability to do well in school or make friends? How could you possibly focus on homework or have the capacity to try out for sports? Adolescence is challenging enough – no child deserves to experience burdens of homelessness tacked on to this already-tricky time.
How a person’s formative years transpire is critical to their future, regardless of their economic status. It’s important to teach your girl during her formative years the value of opening our hearts to those in need. This National Youth Homelessness Awareness Month, we ask you and your girl to join us in supporting the young people and their families experiencing such situations.
Give back with your girl to help eliminate youth hunger and homelessness with these 5 ways:
- Create care packages – Putting together care packages with your girl is an excellent way to make a difference, as it touches on a variety of basic human needs. Categorize your ‘kit’ (which could be a large zip-a lock bag) into four different sections: nonperishable food, toiletries, first aid items and, the cherry-on-top, personal note of encouragement. Things like bottled water, band-aids, soap, toothbrush/paste, lip balm, Advil, can openers, and granola bars are all smart inclusions for the kits. A great tip is to keep a few in your car with seasonal items (SPF, hand-warmers) just in case you pass a youth or family in need.
- Host a clothing drive – Getting other people involved triples the impact, so this option is fantastic for students and families looking to expand their giving in the classroom, social circles or extracurricular activities. The first thing to do here is to reach out to a local organization that specialized in homelessness support. Their expertise will lead the way! Next, build a trusty team, identify a drop-off location, create outreach and when donations arrive, sort clothes into categories, box neatly and then, lastly, drop off your delivery of goodness at your selected organization!
- Deliver canned goods – Purchasing a few extra canned goods during each stop at the grocery store is a low-cost action that makes a big difference. When you pick up your weekly groceries, remind your girl to pick out her favorite canned fruit, veggie or soup. Incorporating her in the selection process is a great way to enhance her involvement. From there, contact your local food bank to schedule a good drop-off time for you and your girl. Have your girl accompany you during the drop-off to show her all of the wonderful hard work that goes into operating a food bank!
- Provide extra support during the holidays – Throughout November and December, the need for extra clothing, food, gifts and funding increases. The same applies to those in the homeless community. Gifts that most people take for granted are exactly what the homeless community needs. New underwear, clothing, pillows, toiletries – think about what you usually receive in your stocking and consider wrapping up a package for a struggling family. Similarly, when you cuddle up in your favorite blanket with your coziest socks, think about giving someone else that same gift of comfort. Remember what the kids want too! Reach out to local family organizations or homeless shelters in your area to see what toys youths have on their lists this year.
- Volunteer – Year-round shelters and nonprofits can always use a helping hand. Between soup kitchens, food banks, after-school programs and shelters, there are multiple ways to donate your time. Getting your girl hands-on and on-site at locations sets a trend of giving for the rest of her life. She sees a world outside of her circle and understands the real meaning of compassion. Select an option that is attainable for you and your girl and set a schedule in advance so you can keep track of your visits and plan accordingly!
Some of these opportunities take longer than others, but all have the power to uplift those who need it most. Make a difference in a way that works for you and remember that no action is too small. The time you and your girl invest in this community will positively shape your relationship for years to come and teach her a lifelong lesson of empathy.
Here at GOTR, we take giving back seriously. In fact, it’s such a staple of our mission that we incorporate it into our program’s curriculum. Every season, girls complete a Community Impact Project of their own creation and coordination. For example, check out the amazing work Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio did during their 2020 Fall 5K! Our girls are taught to share their joy and use their new skills and confidence for the betterment of their communities. Projects vary in scope and vision, but each initiative helps girls create a world where every person is treated with respect, compassion and equality.
Are you interested in signing your girl up in a program that impacts her AND her community? Find your local council and reach out to us here!