50 Ways to Help the Homeless

United Way of King Country has started a campaign called the Out of the Rain Initiative.

Through Out of the Rain, United Way of King County is shaping a future where homelessness is not a given. We believe that it is within the power of the community to alleviate this complex issue that affects us all. In 10 years, King County residents will say “homelessness used to be a big problem here, but things have changed.” This is the vision of the Out of the Rain Initiative of the Community Safety Net Fund.

This is a bold initiative to say the least but something that should be supported.

United Way along with The Rotary Club of Seattle have produced a brochure: 50 Ways to Help the Homeless. It is a great list of easy things you can do to help out. These things are practical and help to encourage change and doesn’t simply enable them to leave things as they are (as it often feels to just hand out money). Please download the file and send it to friends or hand it out.

Even if you don’t live in King County, the list is still practical, you might just have to find some of the phone numbers or locations yourself.

50 Ways to Help the Homeless
1. Donate complimentary shampoos, soaps, etc. from hotels to the YWCA housing and shelter program. 206.461.4888
2. Respond with a kind word when you are approached for a handout for coffee, a meal, etc.
3. Carry fast food restaurant certificates to give to the homeless who are asking for help. (I have also been told that you can buy meal tickets from Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission that might be better than fast food.
4. For only $1.00, buy a copy of Real Change magazine from a licensed vendor homeless person.
5. Help cook dinner for the homeless at First Avenue Service Center. 206.441.8405
6. Organize a food drive through your church, social group or friends and donate to an agency serving the homeless.
7. Buy extra sets of school supplies and donate to homeless children at First Place. 206.323.6715
8. Hire a day worker from teh Millionair Club Charity. 206.728.5627
9. Work as a FareStart kitchen volunteer. 206.443.1233, ext. 6214
10. Volunteer to help at Teen Feed in the University District. 206.522.4366, ext. 3
11. Help homeless kids on Capital Hill by supporting Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets. 206.726.8500
12. Make sack lunches for the YWCA’s Angeline’s Day Center. 206.461.4888
13. Volunteer to help Seattle Children’s Home’s Street Links can that provides supplies to homeless youth. 206.298.9635, ext. 2
14. Help a homeless child at the First Avenue Family Center with their homework. 206.441.8405
15. Put your professional talents to work as a volunteer for one of the nonprofit organizations assisting the homeless.
16. Volunteer at the University District Youth Center for their drop-in program. 206.526.2992
17. Tutor a homeless child at First Place School. 206.323.6715, ext. 1307
18. Donate good quality, work appropriate clothing to Dress for Success. YWCA 206.325.3453
19. Adopt a family for the holidays through the Salvation Army. 206.442.8379
20. Donate blankets, sleeping bags, and coats to Union Gospel Mission. 206.723.0767
21. Make “welcome kits” with everyday household basics for the homeless in transition; donate to an agency of your choice. 206.461.3214
22. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity to help with construction of housing for low-income families. 206.292.5240
23. Become informed, and become an advocate for community solutions for homelessness.
24. Donate used eye glasses to the Pike Market Senior Center. 206.774.5246
25. Adopt an agency that serves the homeless and give them year round support.
26. Prepare “birthday baskets” for homeless children at the YWCA or other agency (cake mix, frosting, birthday napkins, favors, a gift, etc.). 206.461.3214
27. Volunteer to work with the University Youth Shelter. 206.525.1213, ext. 4204
28. Donate sweatshirts and socks - the most useable clothing for homeless people - to any of the day shelters in King County.
29. Learn about the Housing Justice Project. 206.324.9128.
30. Learn more about homelessness. Visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness website.
31. Donate diapers to Family Service’s Baby Boutique. 206.826.3050.
32. Ask a shelter what they need and designate a donation box at home or the office for the needed items.
33. Contribute picture magazines to Pike Place Market Child Care & Preschool. 206.774.5246.
34. Buy a few extra cans of food when you shop and deposit them in the food collection barrels in the grocery store.
35. Give your used furniture to The Sharehouse, a furniture bank. 206.767.5280.
36. Volunteer legal services to Pike Place Market Senior Center. 206.774.5246.
37. Instead of birthday gifts, ask your child’s guests to bring items of warm clothing for someone their age. Give to First Avenue Service Center. 206.441.8405.
38. Donate bus scrip to medical clinics serving the homeless. 206.774.5246.
39. Donate spare sporting events tickets to an agency serving the homeless.
40. Volunteer with the University Family YMCA‘s meal/shower/outreach program. 206.524.1400.
41. Volunteer to staff the “store” at Family Services Baby Boutique. 206.826.3050.
42. Request an electronic file of this booklet and email it to your work associates, family and friends. 206.623.0023.
43. Volunteer to help someone move into a new home. Call the Self-Managed Housing Program of the Church Council of Seattle. 206.525.1213, ext. 3151.
44. Recognize an adult friend’s birthday by making a contribution in their name to a charity fighting homelessness.
45. Conduct a kitchenware drive at your workplace to help equip new housing units for homeless women at YWCA Opportunity Place. 206.461.3214.
46. Serve meals on Christmas or Thanksgiving at one of the homeless shelters.
47. Adopt a shelter at the YWCA Family Village - clean and supply it when new families move in. 425.556.1354.
48. Eat lunch at FareStart, 1902 Second Ave. or 2326 Sixth Ave. Both preparers and servers are homeless people learning a trade.
49. Organize a group to spend a Saturday sprucing up a homeless shelter. YWCA 206.461.3214.
50. Support United Way of King County’s Out of the Rain Homelessness Initiative. 206.461.3700.

So how is that? 50 things most people can easily do. Get together with some friends and start making a difference in people’s lives. Not living in King County is not an excuse either! :)


  1. jill
    May 11th, 2005 at 06:08 | #1

    thanks matt!
    having a grandfather who has a homeles street person in NYC, I am thankful
    there were people such as yourself who cared enough that he lived much
    longer than I thought he would.
    Jill D.

  2. May 12th, 2005 at 09:37 | #2

    very nice..thanks for the ideas;)

  3. May 12th, 2005 at 09:59 | #3

    Great ideas. I’m glad there are people in the world like you helping others. Nice work.

  4. Jae
    May 12th, 2005 at 23:12 | #4

    51. Let them know that the Kingdom of God belongs to them.

  5. salmypal
    May 13th, 2005 at 06:13 | #5

    I really like the idea of having something on hand to give to them when they ask…the gift certificates and such.

  6. May 13th, 2005 at 11:42 | #6

    I have always had a hard to just handing money to the homeless, especially at exits from the freeway. They are all over Seattle and many of them do pretty well for themselves. Often it just seems like enabling them to keep doing the same things over and over. That is why I like this list, they are really encouraging change and helping those in transition from that life into something better.

    And Jae, I think yours is one that should be present throughout the first 50 and is something that is quite crucial.

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