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About Homelessness

How to Help Neighbors in Need

If the thought, “I want to help but I don’t know how,” crosses your mind daily while walking through the streets of Portland, you are not alone. Whether you are on your way to work or grabbing a coffee at one of the many shops scattered throughout the city, you will find yourself walking by someone holding out a weary hand, begging for your help. In those moments, it’s hard to know what to do and more importantly, what items and resources are best to hand out.


One of the most helpful ways to help out a neighbor in need is by packing a care kit. These everyday items that we can take for granted, improve the lives of people living on the street. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  1. Socks
    Homeless men and women spend a lot of time on their feet. Dry, clean socks are one of the most needed items for someone who spends their day outside in the cold.  Band-aids can also be included in the kit to ease the pain of blisters.
  2. Snacks and Water
    Dehydration and hunger are two things that many of us never have to worry about but on the street, it’s all too common. Packets of nuts, crackers, dried fruit, granola bars or any light-weight snacks are great options that are easy to carry and easy to eat. Water bottles are useful in any season and are essential for survival.
  3. Hygiene Items
    Anti-bacterial lotions are a great alternative when soap is not readily available. Little items, such as: shampoo, lip balm, toothpaste, combs, shaving cream and deodorant, make great additions to your kit. Avoid items such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer that contain alcohol.
  4. Resource Guide
    Portland has amazing resources that many people suffering with homelessness may not know about. You can get copies to put in your kits at 211 NW Davis St in Old Town Portland, or from your friendly neighborhood Street Roots vendor.
    Include information about our 24 hour Burnside Shelter, located at 111 West Burnside Portland, Oregon. Learn more about our services here.
  5. Encouragement
    Most importantly, remember that people in need are human! We all need encouragement and support. When you are handing out a kit, take time to listen and learn someone’s name. Let them tell their story if they are willing and offer to pray with them. Sometimes, that is the greatest thing that you can do.

Click Here to download a free care kit resource that includes cut away fliers about our services. Thank you for being willing to help out our neighbors in need and be safe!