Smaller shelters are struggling for things like soap, shampoo, lotion, diapers; all of the things we have in our bathrooms, pantries or stored away. I will always remember myself leaving with nothing other than my child and the clothes on our backs. This is true for so many this time of the year. It's not only battered women. If your area has a winter program to help the homeless, they are in need of same items; including blankets, pillows, socks, towels and all of the personal care things I mentioned before.
What I'm doing is simple. All of those bottles I have turned upside down in my bathroom and kitchen. I'm always trying to be thrifty, using the last drop of shampoo or lotion. We all have found out once you turn that container upside down, there is so much more in it then it appeared.
At the 99 cent store, you can get little empty travel kits that have four clear bottles in it. Mine even came with labels already printed. Shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash and lotion. Many labels describing personal care items. These were the ones I chose when visiting a friend. It gave me the greatest idea. I will buy several of these travel size kits all containing four clear bottles and fill them with lotion, shampoo, etc. All of those bottles turned upside down can fill more empties then you think.
Purchasing several travel kits and some other products while there can really help out those in need. Think about what everyone needs. Baby wipes, soap; this list could go on and on. Pick out a few things and add it to your purchase. When you get home, fill up some of these bottles and donate them.When you are at the mercy of living outside your home, these things are not taken for granted. I remember wanting a razor so bad.
I promise giving to others at this time of year when so many are in need is so rewarding. Giving is much better than receiving, you'll feel wonderful knowing you did something so small that meant so much. A small bottle of shampoo will delight many who have none. You can use what ever containers you may already have. I just found it perfect to be able to fill many at such a small cost.
Please check out your area and drop off a little something. I pray all of those in need can have a bright, new beginning. Being a little comfortable in whatever setting they may be will make it that much easier.
By Luana M. from San Diego, CA
"I tried every which way to get my mind off of food," he said. " . . . Looking through my mother's Woman's Home Companions was how I started to eat roast beef and chocolate cake. There was this absolutely gorgeous roast beef-and-gravy ad with little potatoes and carrots a whole page high, and I took a scissors and cut it out and began to eat it. What was amazing was how the paper actually tasted like roast beef. The same with the chocolate cake. I cut that out and then found an ice cream ad, and I put the ice cream on top of the cake and it really tasted chocolate."
"Actually, eating paper was not all that bad. I took little nibbles and drank water with it and my stomach really did feel a little filled up afterward. Also, I could spend a lot of time hunting through the magazines to put together lunches and dinners. I ate things I'd never eaten before. Like artichokes. And avocados. And lamb chops."
I was horrified, as I imagine you are, then haunted by Aaron's story. After sharing it with family and friends, I decided to join President Obama in his goal to end childhood hunger in America by 2015 and to help raise awareness in my own way.
I've since learned that 17.2 million of today's U.S. households struggle to put food on the table. Because of that, more than 16 million of our children are at risk for hunger; which is more than one in five. Lack of sufficient food affects many aspects of children's lives, from physical and mental development to emotional wellbeing. And as adults, hungry children are more likely to suffer from poverty and less likely to become productive citizens.
Thankfully, there are close to a million public food assistance programs and private organizations; each with an array of innovative approaches that can be trusted to help meet the needs of these vulnerable children:
Most helpful are the federal programs, such as SNAP (food stamps), WIC (supplemental food for Women, Infants and Children), and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief charity, has a network of 200 food banks. One of its many programs is Kids Cafe which "provides free meals and snacks to low income children through a variety of locations where children already congregate during the afterschool hours."
Another is the Summer Food Program which "provides nutritional, healthy meals, food packages, vouchers, and/or snacks to children at risk of hunger during the summer months when school is not in session."
Another national organization, Share Our Strength, "supports food banks and emergency-relief organizations and works to address hunger's root causes." Through fundraising events like Taste the Nation, the Great American Bake Sales, and Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, they engage millions of people.
And finally, a 2012 Charity of the Year, Blessings in a Backpack, is designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program and have little or no food on the weekend.
Joining Aaron's memoir to haunt me yesterday, was a video of poor children who live just hours away from us. As they stared into the lens of the camera, they stuffed their little mouths with "dirt cookies" made from earth, salt and shortening. I say, let's work together to end this nightmare. Let's donate food or money. Volunteer. Sponsor a child. Start a program. Do something.
By Viaux from Miami, FL