Hank and I made Homeless Survival Kits as part of a Life List goal to do a holiday project together. It surprised me by becoming an easy way for Hank to ask me questions, so I wrote about that over here: Talking to My Kid About Homelessness Without Giving Him Nightmares. This is something that has come up a lot in San Francisco, where we have a lot of folks on the streets.
We do give money to our local food bank, but I’d like to have something on me to offer when people ask for help, so Hank doesn’t get the message that you can be indifferent to people in trouble. I did a little research on what to put in our kits, and we ended up using:
Gallon-sized, rainproof ziplock bags
Folding travel toothbrushes
Kind bars (softer to chew than granola)
More items to consider:
Cheese or peanut butter crackers
Vienna sausages with pull off lids
Plastic forks and spoons
Additional ziplock bags to keep belongings dry
There’s a good thread on Meta-Filter that has a lot of suggestions in comments. You can drop your kits off at a local shelter, or give them out individually.
Also, some nice things to consider generally:
Softer food is easier for people to chew if their teeth are hurting. Homeless people don’t have access to dentists or often any way to keep their teeth in shape, so consider that when you’re choosing food.
Hydration can be a big problem when you don’t have a house. If you’re offering food, try to offer a drink as well.
Take your leftovers, and request plastic silverware. If you live in a big city, never turn down your leftovers when you can hand them to someone within a few feet of the door, or leave them on top of the nearest bench or post box for someone to find. I told a waiter I was leaving the rest of my dinner out, and he taped silverware and a napkin to the top. Genius! So now I request one if the place seems to offer takeout. Also, I like to write the date and time on the box if I have a pen.
If you have any simple habits you’ve adopted to help out the homeless people in your community, or any advice to offer if you’ve been homeless yourself, please let us know in comments. And Happy Holidays, team!
Pip Lincolne is an Aussie writer and artist who blogs at Meet Me at Mike’s. I got to meet her as part of my Go Australia trip. I asked Claire Robertson of Loobylu, “Who should I meet up with, now that you’re not in Australia anymore?” And she suggested Pip.
PIP LINCOLNE is beloved because:
• She’s intentional. Pip engages in little self-tuning projects. While I was there, she was working on being kinder to her body, and considerate of how her actions affected people in her family or online community.
• She’s curious. This is such a big deal to me in a person. Pip is always learning about this or that, and sharing what she hears.
• She has a sweetness about her. Her Softies for Mirabel project delivers handmade toys to kids in need. And the project feels like an extension of her — a person who likes to make things and give little gifts.
From Meet Me at Mike’s:
“I like it that having a blog or reading blogs reminds you that life can change all the time. That you can be interested and inspired by different things on different days. That the search for things that excite or inform or impress or motivate you can be undertaken on a regular basis. That looking for things that pique your interest is a perfectly valuable thing to do. That today’s view doesn’t have to be tomorrow’s.” Read More
We had a fancy dinner together as part of my trip, and she made me feel lucky to still be making friends as a grownup.
Wherein I refrain from vomiting into my handbag. Because I am a pro.
Lunch with a view of the Sydney Opera House is some James Bond shit, you guys.
Our Lunch at Quay on Go Mighty
Attend Australia’s Melbourne Cup horse race in a hat by an Aussie designer? Check.
Tourism Australia asked me to choose six Life List goals to accomplish while we were there for Go Mighty’s Go Australia trips, and they suggested I attend the Melbourne Cup. I was told it was like the Kentucky Derby writ large.
That was an understatement. Imagine the Super Bowl falling on the Fourth of July, but everyone is dressed for church on Easter Sunday, and drinking like it’s St. Patrick’s Day. In other words, it’s a hell of a time.
We need new Christmas stockings. I pinned some pretty options on a Christmas Stockings board. Still, I can’t shake the urge to run to the drug store, buy the red faux-fur ones I had as a kid, and write our names on them in glitter and Elmer’s Glue.
I went to a good public high school, but my senior year a nearby school in the district closed, and my school absorbed its students.
Their advanced students joined our honors classes, and two things were clear: 1. The kids were just as smart as us. 2. Their education — at a public school just a few miles away — had not been as rigorous.
One girl joined our English class, and in the first two weeks it was obvious she was crazy bright and crazy frustrated. One day, our teacher used the word symbolism, and this girl kind of lost it.
“We don’t know what that means!” she said. “You guys know a lot about things we’ve never learned.” I leaned over, and said, “We barely know this. They just started talking about it at the end of last year.”
But she shook her head and pressed her lips together. “I don’t think I belong in this class,” she said. “You do!,” I said. “You’re smart! You’re really smart.” And she was.
But the next day she dropped the class.
IT’S NOT ABOUT IQ
I’ve been thinking about this because I recently learned that lots of American kids start kindergarten with a huge disadvantage that has nothing to do with their intellect, and everything to do with a shared vocabulary.
By age four, American kids from high-income families have heard about 30 million more words than kids on welfare, and 15 million more than kids in working class families.
Kids on the lucky end of the word gap obviously have an easier time understanding teachers and making themselves understood, an easier time learning to read, and other benefits that give them a leg up — the perception of a higher IQ than their low-income counterparts. The advantages persist into high school and beyond.
I’ve seen how much vocabulary disparities affect high school students, seen adults who feel stupid when they don’t know what a word means in a business meeting. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for a four year old.
Closing the Word Gap means a cultural shift toward investment in kids – and who’s against this, really? We need more early nutritional programs, support of family stability, and widespread access to early learning in preschools or at home.
China has made such a substantial investment in early childhood education that they should have more college graduates in 2030 than the total size of our workforce in the States.
Fortunately, the biggest impact we can have individually is completely free. We need to treat babies more like little people.
When we see babies or toddlers, we should be talking to them, making eye contact, and reading whenever we get a chance. It lights up their little brains, and makes everyone’s future a little shinier too.
In anticipation of the coming New Year, I made some parenting resolutions for myself. I’ve been exposed to a great deal of parenting research lately, and it turns out I’m finding new and creative ways to arrest my child’s potential. More eye contact! Less Mario!
Anyway, have a look:
If you’ve been doing anything to be a better parent, godparent, aunt or uncle, let us know in comments.