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Volunteering your time to work directly with people experiencing homelessness is one of the best ways to learn about homelessness and while meeting immediate needs at the same time. However, if you are more interested in donating to the cause, consider gifts-in-kind, such as food, blankets, clothing, games, books, or other items that will help make a shelter or direct service agency a war, welcoming, effective and safe place. Or, give money. Talk with people at your local homeless shelter and ask what they most need.
Remember to be patient, as many service providers are under-funded and understaffed, and staff members are focused on meeting people's basic needs or coping with emergencies. Let them know how you can help, when, and for how long, and give them time to figure out how to work you in. Also, remember that service providers need help at all times of year-not just holidays.