Fall/Autumn is enjoyed by many because it’s frequently seen as a time of personal transformation, renewal and abundance; a time to celebrate growth and a season of giving. As the weather gets harsher, and we prepare for Winter; this is the ideal time to make sure everyone in our communities has access to basic necessities that support their health and well-being.
Donating to family and refugee centres, shelters and food banks (all year round) represents one of the numerous ways we can show up for our community; supporting those experiencing homelessness, financial struggles and/or food insecurity. There are a variety of items, especially during the upcoming colder months, that charities and community-based organizations urgently need …
While shelters and food banks distribute supplies for free; don’t forget to contribute to local thrift stores as they help create accessible price points for various everyday products. Instead of throwing away outgrown or unwanted belongings that are gently used or in good condition, gift them to places that can make use of them.
If you want to give back this Autumn, here are a list of essential items to donate this Fall:
Important note: this list is by no means comprehensive; before you donate to a particular place, contact them to find out exactly what their requirements are.
- coats, sweaters, hoodies and pants (trousers)
- gloves, scarves and hats
- boots and other Winter shoes
- underwear and socks — check requirements as some places will only accept unused/unopened pieces
- onesies, t-shirts and other baby/infant/toddler clothing
- bed sheets, comforter (duvet) and pillowcases
- curtains and drapes
- small electrical items; microwaves, toasters, kettles, coffee machines
- tarps and tents to be handed out at homeless shelters — a great suggestion from A Sustainably Simple Life
- wash cloths, towels, facial tissue and toilet paper
- toothpaste and toothbrushes
- deodorant, body wash, shampoo, hand soap, hand sanitizer, razors and shaving cream
- combs, hairbrushes and nail care
- feminine products; sanitary towels and tampons
- baby/infant diapers, wipes, sippy cups, feeding supplies
- laundry detergent
- canned items; fruit, fruit juice, vegetables, beans, soup, meat and fish
- beef, chicken and vegetable stock
- peanut butter and jelly (jam)
- rolled oats, pasta, pasta sauce and rice
Eliminating barriers to basic staples that look after health, hygiene and well-being remains a vital step towards establishing a society based on equity. Recognizing everyone’s humanity, regardless of their circumstances is the kind of world we should all invest in. Donations represent an encouraging start, but this doesn’t address the causes of financial insecurity.
Poverty in the U.S., for example, is the result of multifactorial issues and contradictory policies. While anti-poverty programs like low-income tax credits, unemployment insurance, Social Security and nutrition assistance has achieved a positive impact; the pandemic exposed how much more needs to be done to lift people out of hardship. It also showed how a sudden change in circumstances, like losing a job or a significant health issue, can be an immediate tipping point into scarcity for millions of people that takes far longer to get out of than it does to fall into it.
The first step in tackling poverty in the USA has to be modernizing how it’s measured, making sure it reflects current living costs and needs in 2021. The official measure that the government uses, for example, is based on analysis from 1963 that used subsistence food budget data from 1955. Times have changed. How can you possibly address levels of poverty if the specific threshold that determines it is woefully inaccurate?
Once a reliable understanding of the levels of financial insecurity is established; policymakers can realistically identify what it will take to reduce poverty and overcome its oftentimes engulfing distress and adversity. With factual data at hand, it will likely show that safety net programs need to be expanded or overhauled; job creation needs to include economic stability through pay equality and an increased minimum wage; not to mention investments that broaden access to health care and affordable housing, plus the introduction of permanent paid family and medical leave — to name a few possibilities.
There is so much we can do to support each other through the colder months — and life’s challenges — donation drives and fighting for system change that benefits all those in need is an essential way to celebrate everyone’s innate value.
What other items are good to donate during the Fall and Winter? Do you know of any great charities/organizations that provide support within your community (share them in a comment)?