The majority of homeless people in Pensacola live in what are called “homeless camps”. These camps are generally hidden in the woods and are often close to commercial areas where the homeless can purchase supplies and get some support from individuals who wish to help them.
Most of the camps that I have seen house around a dozen people. The camp consists of tents and tarps and an area where they sit on buckets or milk crates. Many of the people that live there have jobs. One thing that I have noticed is common to all camps is that they help each other. They function like the early church in that they have all things in common. When one person gets money or food they all share it. If someone is sick another person will take them to the emergency room or get them medicine. In many ways, they are very much like a family. The modern church could learn a lot from how homeless people share and take care of each other.
A great way to help the homeless in Pensacola is to adopt a homeless camp. To do this you would first introduce yourself to a few of the camp members. Then you would make a list of things that they need. Get clothing sizes and things like that. It is helpful if they let you know what they need. Once you get to know some of the people you can take one or two to a thrift store and let them pick out what they need. Make sure that everyone at the camp is taken care of. You do not have to go overboard. Just determine what you are able to provide and do it consistently.
This ministry is very much like the other ministries that are for individuals. The difference is that everything you do benefits the entire camp. It is more general in nature. Since everything you do is to benefit the entire camp there is less of a problem with some getting more help than others. Everyone is treated equally in theory. For example, if you purchase a radio for the camp then everyone gets to enjoy it. If you buy tarps then they would be distributed to those who need them.
Food is a great thing to give to a camp. Canned goods are great and fresh fried chicken on Sunday afternoon is not bad either. A camp stove, a propane light, mosquito spray, a solar shower are just a few of the things that you can provide.
This type of ministry is an excellent doorway to a church service on Sunday. After a few weeks of helping just ask if they would like for you to come by and do a service for them. I have never been told no.