We can still help others while staying on budget.
Although I have a “give” envelope in my budget, there are other ways we can help. Many people are being displaced and evacuated during the recent hurricanes, and others have been homeless for some time. Here are some ways you can help:
Plastic bag bedrolls
The sidewalk or shelter floors can wear on anyone’s bones and make for poor sleeping. These DIY crocheted bedrolls are made from plastic grocery bags! They can be washed easily and tied into a roll for transport, and are surprisingly comfortable . Groups all over the country (like this one )are making them as a charity effort for homeless citizens or hurricane victims – consider creating your own local group. They are pretty easy to crochet with one of those giant crochet hooks, but you could put them together by making the chains using your fingers and attaching the chains together with bag ties.
You don’t have to stop at grocery bags. This video explains how to make a mat from Canadian milk bags (yes, you buy your milk in bags in Canada!) and a loom. Using thick plastic and newspapers, you can put together a rudimentary but warm sleeping bag.
If you don’t have time to help in this way – send a participating group that ever-growing pile of plastic grocery bags from your pantry or closet!
Washing up with soap and water is something we take for granted – but it can be a luxury for hurricane victims who have left everything behind. Do you have a stash of hotel shampoos and personal-size soaps? Put them to good use by filling a bag with with an inexpensive facecloth, shampoo, soap, razor, and a recycled jar of clean water. Add a travel-sized tube of toothpaste (the kind you get in your dentist gift bag), and a toothbrush. In fact, consider putting in everything from that dentist’s bag – those tiny rolls of floss could make someone very happy.
Gloves and scarves
Knitters and crocheters, here’s your chance to use up that odd pile of yarn and create something warm and cozy! Gloves prevent frostbite and injuries, and scarves can be used to cover necks, heads, or even feet. Hand them out to the homeless, or leave them in a conspicuous spot for others. Send them by the dozen to areas housing hurricane victims or the homeless. If you are not a knitter, consider making fleece scarves out of old blankets or sweatshirts, and gloves from discarded sweaters.
Donate to your local food banks
These food organizations are vital, and are always in need of staples. Your local food bank is likely connected to an organization that can distribute supplies to the areas hit by hurricanes. Look in your pantry and see if you have canned beans or meats, pastas or noodles, etc. It is never a waste of money to replace something you have given in charity.
In a crisis, blood banks are in need of every blood type. If you have never donated blood, it’s simple. Check local bulletins for locations of mobile blood drives, or check on the American Red Cross site for locations. Drink plenty of water before you go – and allow a half hour or more to finish the process. Take advantage of the cookies and orange juice offered at the end, as it will help your body readjust and begin replacing the blood you donated.