There are certain personal hygiene items that we all need every day. These would be items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, deodorant, tissue paper, wet wipes, combs, soap, etc… Also, when we cut or injure ourselves we normally have a band aid and some ointment close by. We take most of these things for granted and seldom stop to think what life would be like without them.
Hygeine and first aid kits for the homeless are simple to put together and very helpful. Just make a list of the basic items you would need if you were homeless and then purchase them in bulk and put them in a heavy duty ziplock bag. Here are some ideas for what to put in a kit.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Mouthwash (non alcohol type)
- Chap Stick or Vaseline
- Shaving Razor
- Wet Wipes
- Band Aids
- Adhesive First Aid tape and gauze pads
- Anti Bacterial Ointment
- Ace Bandage
These are just some ideas. You can also split the kits into hygiene and first aid. One hygiene per person and one first aid kit per camp.
This is by far the greatest of all the ministries. It is also the most enjoyable and productive. Here is all you have to do.
- Find someone who can play guitar and sing.
- Find a place to have a service. We have had services on the side of the road but a park or other piece of property is better. We now have our services in one of our members Aunts front yard under a nice shade tree. Much better than an Interstate 10 on ramp.
- Invite people to come as you are talking with them. Let them know you will be serving lunch.
- Print out a single page on typing paper with the Bible verses you will talk about. No canned sermons. No agenda based sermons. Just the Bible. Parables and stories about Jesus work very well. (i.e. The Good Samaritan, The Woman at the Well, The Prodigal Son, The Raising of Lazarus, Etc…) Print enough copies for everyone to have one. You will find that they fold them up and keep them.
- On the day of the service purchase some pizzas, Food World chicken or just get a couple of loaves of bread, cheese, meat, mayonnaise and mustard. Add chips and water and you have your meal. If you have a folding table for the food that would be nice. Otherwise a picnic blanket will suffice.
- Meet at the location, open in prayer and let people start eating. Don’t ever make anyone wait until the service is over to eat. Let them eat up front. Then just start playing songs. Hymns and praise songs are great. Play as many as you want. We normally do about 8 songs.
- Pass out the Bible verses and just read and comment on the verses. Since you are probably not a professional preacher then you are going to need help. This will be the Holy Spirits job. Remember, just read and make comments.
- After the Bible reading ask is anyone has a testimony or something that God has done in their life.
- Then do a song or two in closing. We normally do I’ll fly away and then a song like Just as I am.
- Then just close in prayer and you are done.
- After the service stay and talk with people. Let them have all the leftovers. Our people normally take them to people who could not make it to the service.
Remember, keep it simple and casual. Make people feel comfortable. Don’t dress in a suit. If you can’t sit on the ground in the clothes you wear then wear different clothes. Don’t talk down to people. Let them sit in chairs while you sit on the ground or on your guitar case.
Being able to shower regularly helps a person in several ways. First, it is important for personal hygiene reasons. Second, it lifts a person spirits, refreshes them, and gives them a better outlook on life. Third, if you smell nice people will want to be around you more. The problem is, if you don’t have a home, where do you take a shower?
A solar shower is a great solution to this problem. A solar shower is a vinyl bag that holds about 4 – 5 gallons of water. It has a hose and shower head built into it as well as a little cut off valve. They cost about $6 at Academy or Walmart. To use a solar shower you fill it up, let it sit in the sun to warm up, and then take a shower. These are commonly used by campers and also on sailboats. I use one myself when I go sailing and they work very well.
This is something that you would want to offer to homeless camps. I normally get them two. They often use one for showers and the other for washing dishes. A backpack is a great way to transport a full shower bag to camp from a water source.
I have yet to have a person that lives on the street refuse a clean pair of socks. People that are homeless tend to walk a lot. Also, when it rains their clothes,shoes and socks often get wet. It is for these reasons that a ministry that provides socks and shoes to the homeless is a great idea.
Socks can be new or used (freshly washed). They don’t need to be expensive. Keep in mind that a homeless person does not have a washer and dryer so the socks may be discarded after a few days.
Shoes are also a must. Getting the correct size is the problem. Size 8 – 12 is common. Basic used tennis shoes or sneakers are fine. Garage sales, thrift stores or flea markets are good places to look. You should be able to pick them up for a few dollars a pair. If you get canvas shoes you can run them through the wash. Otherwise you can use Lysol to disinfect them before giving them to someone.
This would be a great ministry for a group of people that wanted to pool their resources and collect shoes and socks. If this works out then you can always move into a clothing ministry as well.
A backpack is almost a necessity for a homeless man or woman. Especially if they are traveling. They allow a person to comfortably carry their belongings from place to place. Also, if you are providing sun showers (4-5 gallon) then a backpack is a great way to transport that back to camp full of water for a shower.
Backpacks can be purchased at garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets as well as on sale in the store. This is not something that you have to pay full price for since they are so readily available used. The kind your kids use for school is fine. You almost can’t go wrong.
Prices in the store are from $8 and up so used they would be very affordable. Just keep a supply in your trunk and when you talk with a person and feel like they might need one then provide that to them along with a survival guide and a New Testament.
Homeless people sleep either on the street or in camps. Most have a little camp set up in the woods. A tent and a tarp are priceless to a person that needs a dry place to sleep. Since most tents tend to leak a little, a tarp is normally placed over the tent to keep it dry during heavy rains. A tarp can also be used to keep other supplies and gear dry. Providing some string or cord is also very helpful.
You would want to purchase small tents. A two man dome tent is perfect. I have found them at Walmart for $15 – $20. When they are on sale just buy all you can. Tarps run about $5 each. If you are on a tight budget then just provide tarps and string (cord).
Giving them out is simple. You simply ask a person or group if they need anything. If they need a tent they will tell you. You can also ask if they have a dry place to sleep. If they already have a place or if they are traveling through town they will often decline your offer. Also, you would want to remove the scan tags so that the tent cannot be returned.
Bus passes can be purchased from the Escambia County Transit Authority or ECAT. The website is goecat.com . Each pass runs $1.75 and provides a one way trip to anywhere the bus system goes. Transfers between buses is free. (ask the driver) I keep a stack in my car. If a man or woman needs to get to a shelter then one pass will do the job. If a person needs to go to the social security office to apply for benefits or to pick up a check then they would need two. If a person is handicapped and they need assistance to get to where they are going then you would need 4 passes for a round trip. Other than you going broke, there is virtually no way to go wrong with this ministry. Especially if you give them out only to people that you know personally.
I would recommend that you purchase as many as you can each week and as you talk to people determine whether a pass will help them. Try to give them only to people who have a specific place they need to go. Places like shelters, government assistance offices, jobs or home to family are good places to send people.
Lastly, if the person you give the pass to needs to know where the nearest bus stop is, they can call 850-595-3228 which is the ecat main number.
This is one of the most effective ways to help a homeless person or anyone without transportation. A bike can get a person to a job, the store, a clinic, the VA, church, and on and on. Most of the bikes we give are used for going to a job. A bike literally triples the number of job opportunities by expanding persons travel area. Also, as a person is more mobile they tend to be more optimistic about life. I have had great success with this type of assistance.
How do you select people to give bikes to? Here is what I do. If a person has a job or gets various odd jobs and does not appear to be a drug addict or an alcoholic then they would be a good prospect. If a person is obviously an addict then they would not be a good prospect. For people with addiction issues you would want to stick with bus passes and street survival guides. We have separate articles that cover these ministries.
Bikes are normally fairly easy to acquire. Adult bikes that are either 24″ or 26″ are best. A small adult can use a 24″ and a larger adult would need a 26″. A mountain bike or beach cruiser are the most versatile. It is a good idea to also give the person a lock. A bike without a lock is at risk of theft. Also, a small flashlight for the front and reflective tape (red) for the rear will keep the bike legal at night. A basket of some sort provides a way to transport groceries and supplies.
You can find bikes at garage sales, thrift stores and through Craigslist or the Shopper. Prices run from $25 – $50 per bike. You can often get locks for around $12 for a pack of three. You can also get bikes on clearance at Academy for as low as $63. (sometimes)
This is not a ministry for a person on a budget but it is a very effective one. Also, don’t be discouraged if you find that a person you provided a bike for has sold it for cash. This happens now and then. On the bright side, they often sell it to another homeless person. Keep in mind that whenever you give someone else you do it with no strings attached. If they choose to take their only means of transportation and cash it in then that is on them.
You are going to need a way to transport bikes. A truck is great but a car with a trailer is also fine.
The Escarosa Coalition on the Homeless (ECOA) puts out a “Street Survival Guide”. This guide is 32 pages long and contains virtually every agency that can help a homeless person or any other person in need. This publication is worth its weight in gold to a person that has found themselves on the streets of Pensacola with no where to go.
This is a very inexpensive ministry to start. The guides are 10 cents each and are available at the ECOA which is located in the Brownsville Baptist Church building off of Cervantes. The contact information is as follows :
Mailing address: P.O. Box 17222 Pensacola, FL 32522
Physical address: 2601 West Strong Street in the Brownsville Baptist Church Building
If this was all you gave a homeless person then it would be a good start. Many of them already have the guides so don’t be surprised if they don’t need one. If they are new in town or just recently homeless it is likely that they do not know about the guide. You can also distribute the guides to Thrift Stores, Churches, Pawn Shops and other places where the homeless would seek help.