Being from Louisiana, we’ve seen first-hand how quickly you can lose everything, which is why giving back is so important. Giving back isn’t all about doing a 5k or participating in a school fundraiser selling chocolate. There are so many people in need of the simple things such as toiletries, first aid items, and food.
Think back to Hurricane Katrina or The Great Flood of 2016. I don’t remember much from Hurricane Katrina; I was only 8 at the time, so the amount of loss that was happening around me was a blur and didn’t resonate until I was much older. I remember my grandma lived in Metairie, so she came to our house in Covington. My dad was food director at a hospital at this time, so he was on mandatory stay there. Patients have to eat!
We were one of the families that had decided not to leave right away. Like many others, we figured it wouldn’t be that bad. Then the levees broke.
One thing I remember vividly is how upset my grandma was. She knew she was losing everything; all of her pictures, clothes, and memories were gone.
That has always stuck with me. When natural disasters happen, people need everything. There are many things that people don’t realize to give, so we’ve come up with a list of items that can always help:
Toiletries and Hygiene Products
This can be a small shampoo and conditioner set that was meant to be taken on vacation that will be forgotten in the back of your closet, or some towels that you aren’t fond of. Small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant are easier for people without permanent homes to transport because they take up less space.
A toothbrush and toothpaste can be exceptionally important to those that may not have regular access or any access to a dentist. This helps keep people in need from experiencing extreme tooth problems. When buying toothpaste, consider looking for products for sensitive teeth, different flavors, and other special dental needs.
Go to your local dollar store to purchase these items! It is low-cost but will have a big impact. Bring them to shelters or add them to care kits and give them to the less fortunate!
People often think about donating school supplies at the beginning of the new school year, but not in the middle of the year. By the mid-year point, many schools are running low on supplies for children in need. Pencils are close to becoming stubs, notebooks are on their last leg, and children need replacements.
Giving mid-year helps children that need new supplies be able to receive them!
Walmart often has school supplies on sale after the initial rush before school begins. Your local dollar store is always a good place to check as well! Bring these to your local shelter to be given out.
Diapers are expensive! This is one of the best things that you can give since new mothers often go through many different types before they find the ones that they like. All the trial and error diapers that would be stored away and forgotten about can be donated for new mothers.
Target often has sales on diapers throughout the year. Check the newspaper or online coupons to see if any are included!
Gently Used Bikes
Do you have an old bike lying around that someone in your house has lost interest in? If it is gently used and still in good condition, consider donating: This can provide an easy and free form of transportation to commute to and from work or school.
A bike lock can also be extremely helpful. This ensures the bike will not be stolen while in class or at work.
The best place to donate bikes would be Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, a local shelter or someone in need that you know.
I’ll admit it: I stock pile reusable bags. I probably have at least 10 sitting in the pantry, and somehow I ALWAYS end up with more. Reusable storage bags can be perfect for someone that may rely on public transportation, biking, or walking to bring their goods back home.
Pack the smaller goods you are going to donate in bags that are sturdy and reusable, that way they can be given to someone in need.
Blankets are often only thought about during the winter, but have you ever looked at the lowest temperature on any given night on your weather app? If it shows a temperature you wouldn’t want your thermostat at home reading, chances are good that people without proper access to heat are in need of something to keep them warm.
TJ Maxx, Ross, or Marshalls are great places to get inexpensive quality blankets! You can also check thrift stores for blankets to wash and donate or hand to the homeless. Any type of fleece or wool blanket is ideal–these tend to stay the warmest.
First Aid Items
This is extremely important for those that are homeless and do not have access to bandages or disinfectants. Donating bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and Neosporin can help save someone from getting an infection.
If you would rather not buy these items separately, first aid kits are always a great option! Just make sure whatever you bring is properly sealed.
Any grocery, drug, or dollar store should carry any of these items plus more. Pack these in the reusable bags!
Non-perishables are the most frequently donated items! This is anything canned that stays good for an extensive period of time when not open. Check with your local shelter to see what canned goods they are in need of!
Have expired canned goods? Food banks also will take those off your hands!
Many schools, business, and churches have local food drives; keep an eye out for them too!
Many food banks and soup kitchens need help any day of the week. Put together care packages or serve food to the people they are helping. Giving your time in any of these ways will have a lasting impact on someone else.
Donating doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive but can have an immediate impact of the people that you are helping.
Want to give back without giving money?Check out our blog post Giving without Giving Money!
Are there other things that you donate? Let us know in the comments!
My name is Caitlyn, and I’m currently a student at Southeastern. I’m a podcast enthusiast with a passion for cooking and dining out, and I love spending my free time with my horse Nero.