There are a lot of expectations for what donations are most needed at a large emergency shelter like Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. Many of these expectations are completely true, eg: nonperishable food items, shirts, hats, blankets, etc. But there are a few things that we always need but seldom receive. So I am going to take this opportunity tell you about the top five out-of-the-box items that we use on a daily basis and why they are so important.
If you are anything like me, you have one great pair of sneakers and you wear them until they are worn down to almost nothing. By the time I buy a new pair of sneakers, the old ones are filled with holes and have a very thin sole. This is why I seldom donate my old athletic shoes. And this is also why Sunday Breakfast rarely has a supply of sneakers to be given away. Dress shoes may look nice (and are great for job interviews!) but when you spend a lot of your time outside, on your feet, or walking then dress shoes are just not that comfortable. This is why sneakers are (metaphorically) worth their weight in gold to Sunday Breakfast.
Men and women come in all shapes and sizes. And in order to help all kinds of people, most t-shirts or hoodies donated range from sizes Small to Extra Large. You might be saying, “that sounds great, those are all the sizes.” False. Those are most of the sizes. Unfortunately some of our larger guests require XXL to XXXL clothing. These larger men and women do not have the option of buying correctly sized clothing which is why it is so important that Sunday Breakfast is prepared to accommodate their needs before they ask.
Full Sized Shampoo:
For our long term guests, we help them settle in until they are ready to live an independent and productive life. These men will be with us for eight to twelve months (depending on how long it takes them to graduate from the Overcomer program). During this time, it is important that they make this building their home. Our abundance of travel sized shampoos, soaps, and conditioners is perfect for our Emergency Population but it makes the Overcomers feel like they are staying in a hotel rather than at their own house. Donating full sized toiletries helps these men feel at home and invest in their surroundings. It is a small but important shift in perspective.
Every day, the Mission goes through twenty six rolls of toilet paper rolls. People don’t talk about it but everybody needs it. Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Restrooms are for Customers Only”? The homeless men and women of Philadelphia do not have the privilege of using many restrooms around the city because they cannot afford to be considered a customer. Can you imagine the humiliation of being refused this very basic need? This is why our bathrooms are in constant use by those who don’t have anywhere else to go. Sunday Breakfast pays $14.63 a day for a privilege that most of us take for granted. Think outside the box: sponsor a day of free bathroom access for the Philly homeless today.
Our two thrift store locations are in desperate need of furniture. Between giving it away to ex-homeless individuals at our Bucks County Furniture Bank or selling it to provide more meals in Center City, we don’t have much furniture left. Approximately 26% of our income is provided by sales from our thrift stores. They are a vital part of keeping the Mission alive. Donated furniture can also be given away at the Bucks County Furniture Bank. Last year, they provided 398 pieces of furniture for ex-homeless individuals and families in Bucks County. Call the nearest store location for free pick up!
If you found this list interesting, then follow our constantly changing Pinterest board of most needed items. This is a great way of staying informed about the items that we need most when we need them. The needs may change but the reason is always the same: to end homelessness. Help us end homelessness donating these strange little things that make a big difference.
As cliché as it sounds: Christmas is about giving. Giving cheer, giving presents, and (most of all) giving love. Sometimes we forget this when we are all bogged down with ugly sweater parties, cookie eating contests, and shopping trips. We get so caught up in the present-buying mindset that we forget to have a truly generous spirit.
This is why I have compiled a list of a few easy, fun, and inexpensive ways for you to spread Christmas cheer with a happy heart. Don’t worry; they won’t take too much time out of your already hectic schedule.
A Few Extra Christmas Cards
Whether you are writing, creating, or coloring in Christmas cards: make a few extra and send them to a homeless person who will be spending Christmas Eve at Sunday Breakfast. Either write something from the heart or copy a meaningful quote. Trust me, they need Christmas cheer just as much (or more) than a lot of people on your list.
Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission
P.O. Box 297
Philadelphia, PA 19105
Warm a Heart
Next time you make your morning Starbucks or DD run, pay for the person behind you in line at the drive through. It is cold outside, so help warm a stranger up with a simple cup of coffee.
Don’t Forget the Classics
Now I am a die-hard Hallmark Christmas Movie fan but some among us might not enjoy their cheesy and predictable plots. Pick out a top notch Christmas movie and watch it as a family. My top suggestion? Elf, Rudolf, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, or Frozen (well at least it is cold).
The Light Sights
Drive (or walk) around to see the Christmas Lights. If you live in Philly then there are tons of places for you to see some fantastic lights. If you really like some of the decorations, then be sure to tell the person who put them up! Leave a candy cane and note saying, “Good job on the lights.” But don’t put it in the mailbox (that’s a felony).
Frozen in Time
If you have children, then I bet they are pretty cute. Share them with your friends and relatives! Make a short home video to send to geographically challenged loved ones. Even if you don’t have children, it is a fun way to show that you care.
Regardless of the size, random acts of kindness can have a big effect on someone’s day (and possibly life). This season is very depressing for the people who have no family left. So spend a little time this Christmas season making someone else’s holiday season a little brighter. Trust me, you won’t regret it.