The Generosity of Giving: The Best Items to Donate to Homeless People

If you’ve been exploring ways to volunteer and help out your community, then you should consider donating to homeless people in your area. There are many different organizations that collect donations and help distribute them among the homeless in need, including shelters and soup kitchens. As you decide what to donate, however, there are a few guidelines you should follow to ensure that the donation is of real help to the recipients rather than just an empty gesture or even worse, something they can’t use. Here are the best items to donate to the homeless community.


High calorie foods like granola bars, cereal bars, nuts and seeds are also a good idea. And high protein items like dried meats, jerky and trail mix are great because they contain energy without weighting the stomach down too much.

Canned goods with pop tops are perfect for homeless people who may not have access to a can opener. Shelf-stable food is best to grab and eat on the go, so crackers or chips should be your first choice. Of course, you want to provide nutritious food balanced in its macronutrients, but if you don’t know what kind of diet your recipient has, it’s better to err on the side of excess.

If you can cook or buy and serve individual hot meals, they will be the most cherished. Soups and pastas are popular meal choices. Beef stew, chili, chicken pot pie, lasagna, and spaghetti & meatballs are all hearty dishes that can be served as either lunch or dinner. You can use a crockpot or slow cooker for many of these recipes, which makes them super convenient, since they’re typically just left to simmer all day. Casseroles are another easy option; throw everything into one dish for quick prep time.


This can be beneficial for both parties involved. For example, if you have old clothes laying around your house collecting dust and taking up space, donating them instead to homeless shelters can provide free clothing for people in need. Most homeless individuals don’t have the money necessary to purchase new clothes from a store, because they often cannot hold down a job while they are out on the streets with no place to live.

You may also want to consider donating winter clothes, such as coats, hats, gloves, scarves and sweaters. Other needed items include: socks, shoes, and new packs of underwear. It’s always good to have various sizes available, so everyone can find something they need!

Health Care

You may wonder what you can give a homeless person that will really help them. You may want to consider giving the basic necessities, such as items like Tylenol, face masks, gloves, and band-aids. These are very useful in an emergency situation, or even just regular use. Remember that these people don’t have easy access to resources, so just a little something can go a long way!

It’s important to remember that there is a lot more than meets the eye when dealing with homelessness – and often times there are reasons for it, such as mental health issues, which makes it hard for those who need our support the most.

I’ve noticed that many homeless individuals prefer self care gifts from donors, such as books, headphones, and gift cards for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which they said helps pass the time while they’re living on the streets.


It is important that the items you donate are sanitary. Soaps, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, and deodorant are just a few examples of ways people can get access to better hygiene in their lives. Though these items might seem like a small gesture on your end, they are very much appreciated by those who receive them.


Even if you only have an air mattress to offer, it can make a huge difference in the life of someone struggling with homelessness. As members of your community, you can provide beds for these individuals by donating new or gently-used sheets and pillows.

Along with bedding, you may also want to consider donating towels and blankets for those in need. Consider collecting household items that homeless people could use – like easy to use cleaners, garbage bags, and paper towels.

Willow Stevens

Willow is a mother of six who begins to feel the empty nest, with faer oldest child living with his long-time girlfriend in another state, and the next three begin their talks about jobs and the excitement of college and living alone. Willow started couponing in 2007 to save their family some money on the grocery budget. That's how Freetail Therapy was born, so that fae could share their knowledge of saving money with others. Though the site has become so much more since then, and now includes homeschooling and homesteading info, Willow still does it all on a budget and shares how. Willow enjoys snagging freebies, snuggling with their dog, Xander, drinking decaf coffee, gardening, cannabis and of course, their large frugal family.

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