I should probably start out by saying I am probably not the best person to ask this question. Obviously I’m a little more versed in social media than most in my situation. And while I’ve taken that route I’m also lucky enough to have a vehicle to store most of my things in. But I have been asked what do people need and where do we help. I’ll address these along with what things are bad ideas as well.
Good ideas. It’s getting cold out so gloves and scarves. But something else to consider is cold medication. However when selecting it take a look to see it’s not one of the ingredients to make crystal meth from. Same goes for cough syrup. Most have a good amount of alcohol in them and the people I’ve run into here would use it to get drunk.
Big items such as coats and sleeping bags are great. I was fortunate enough to get a pretty nice sleeping bag and on that night it hit 10 degrees I was nice and warm. Without it I would’ve had to go into the shelter as a last resort.
Food items. Things to eat are always appreciated. But please no canned goods. How many homeless people walk around with a can opener to take advantage of it? Things that don’t spoil and are prepackaged are best. Gift cards for places such as McDonalds, Subway and Dunkin Donuts are good choices because they are all over the place and you don’t have to eat it right then but when you need it. Starbucks cards are also a good choice. While this could be considered frivolous look at it from this perspective. A large drip coffee is about $2.50. However Starbucks is used to people sitting in there for hours on end. So a cup of coffee in Starbucks will not only warm someone up, but also give them a warm place to hang out for a little while.
Now, where to go? There are a few key places. Lower Wacker Drive has a high homeless population. You can always see people around the Taylor St exit off of 90/94 as well. Next to the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library on State Street is a park where a lot of homeless hang around as well.
I would also suggest looking for an established group as well. Smaller more grass roots groups that get into the trenches that you can hook up with to either augment what they are already doing or something completely different as well. Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless is a fantastic organization that I’ve been in contact with and they have helped me tremendously throughout my ordeal. They can be contacted through Facebook here. John Shafer is an amazing individual that I’m sure will be able to guide anyone who wants to help in the city. I will be with him and his group to help them pass things out this Saturday. Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I can’t do my part to help as well!
Lastly a bit of self promotion.
So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.
If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60