Homelessness affects virtually every neighborhood in America to one extent or another. The pandemic was a driving source of increased homeless rates among middle to lower-class Americans, and we still see the repercussions today. Chances are, your child has seen someone on the side of the road or walking down the street who has lost everything and now has no home, car, or job to get back on their feet. Children have an inherent desire to help others, so chances are they have asked how they can offer assistance when they come in contact with someone experiencing homelessness. Showing your child how they can help others and developing a love for lending a hand to those in need is an excellent way for kids to grow into adults who have a heart for helping the less fortunate in their community. 

Homelessness In Portland

Oregon is ranked seventh in the nation for the homeless population, with over 15,800 individuals living on the street, in their car, or in a shelter. Homelessness is always higher within urban areas, which is why Portland sees a higher number of people living on its streets than surrounding suburban areas. In an effort to combat this problem, local officials are working on providing increased awareness and resources to help find permanent homes for its most vulnerable citizens. You and your kids can help with this initiative by offering assistance where possible and supporting the local organizations that are making an effort to find every homeless citizen safe and affordable housing. Some of the non-profit organizations in the Portland area include:

These non-profits are an excellent area to begin getting involved!

How Can Kids Help Those Experiencing Homelessness?

Just because kids are young doesn’t mean there aren’t ways they can help those in the Portland area experiencing homelessness. Here are a few easy yet impactful things you and your kids can do to help those in need. 

Collect Supplies

Many people who are homeless don’t have a job, which means they can’t afford to buy products we often take for granted. Collecting supplies is an easy way kids can help provide homeless citizens with basic necessities without spending a lot of money. Kids can set up a stand in their front yard, similar to a lemonade stand, asking for donations, or if you’re friendly with others in the neighborhood, you can go door to door asking for donations like toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, etc. 

Work At A Local Food Bank

Portland is home to many incredible food banks, giving you many options when choosing which ones to support. Volunteering your time to help out at a local food bank provides kids an opportunity to serve others and escape their bubble and see how some people in the world live. It can be an eye-opening experience for kids, seeing others who have very different lives from their own, and it can help foster empathy and compassion. Food banks are always looking for volunteers to help in various ways, including cooking, serving, and collecting food. If you’re not comfortable helping at the actual food bank, you and your child can collect cans and boxes of non-perishable food and donate it to help restock their shelves. Here is a list of some food banks in the Portland area.

Donate To A Shelter

Shelters provide the homeless with a safe place to sleep and get back on their feet. They give out hundreds of products every month to the local homeless population, providing them with the items they need to survive. Many shelters have a limited budget and rely on monetary and goods donations to stay open and continue serving the Portland area. You can encourage your kids to clean out their closets and toys and donate their unused items to your local shelter. They may be surprised to learn that many children their age struggle with homelessness, so providing these less fortunate kids with clothing and toys means so much and gives them the chance to just be kids. Here is a list of shelters in the Portland area that welcome donations or you could go to www.homelessshelterdirectory.org

Educate on Homelessness Awareness

Educating your kids on who to call if they encounter someone experiencing homelessness is a great way to help them be proactive in helping others. If a friend from school, a teammate, or an acquaintance confides in them and tells them their family lost their home or is in danger of not having food or shelter, your child will know what to do. The above list of Portland homeless organizations is an excellent resource for helping those experiencing homelessness, especially if children are involved. 

Show Kindness

Instilling in kids an understanding that poverty, inequality, trauma, and the other causes commonly associated with homelessness are complex issues can help destigmatize homelessness. The homeless are often overlooked and abandoned, resulting in hopelessness and never bettering their situation. Teaching children the power of kindness is an excellent way for them to help those in need. When kids develop empathy and compassion for others, they react in a loving way, which is sorely needed in this day and age. Don’t let your kids underestimate the power of kindness to help those around them.

Homelessness is a real issue affecting thousands of men, women, and children in the Portland area. Actions like collecting supplies, helping at a food bank, and donating to a shelter all give kids the chance to get involved in their community and help those around them. Showing kids how they can get involved and help those in need helps develop empathy and compassion and gives kids the chance to look beyond themselves and serve others.