One of the biggest challenges for the homeless, explained Arnold Ramsey of FMC, is keeping their belongings safe. Many homeless men and women work but have no permanent place to store clothes, toiletries, food and important papers. The simple gift of a duffle bag can be transformational.
“Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference to those living on the street,” explained Ramsey, who, along with his wife Sonya, has been helping the homeless in Columbus, Ohio for more than five years. “If you can’t keep your belongings with you, then every day you have to ‘start over.’ So that’s why this year, we’re focusing on supplies, rather than food, in our holiday collection.”
For the second year, Ramsey and his friend Kevin Behrens of Univar, Inc. have collected supplies and funds for the homeless in the Ohio area. The idea was born with Behrens approached Ramsey for input on how Univar could help give back to the community in conjunction with its annual holiday open houses. Ramsey suggested collections for the homeless as a way to make a direct and immediate impact.
Behrens sent out the call to the pest management community and in 2013, the group collected 57 “provision packs” and more than 80 meals. In 2014, the two men expanded the drive to include Cincinnati and Cleveland (in addition to Columbus) and through the generosity of the pest management professionals, have collected hundreds of flashlights, batteries, socks and toiletries.
“The supplies are very much appreciated, and will be used to keep homeless individuals a bit safer and warmer this year,” said Ramsey. “But even more important is that we’re showing these people that even though they live on the street, we care about them. That’s the best gift of all.”
How You Can Help
Besides money and food, homeless shelters are in need of personal care items such as tooth brushes, toothpaste, Band-Aids, underwear, Neosporin, toilet paper, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, baby wipes, thick socks, batteries and feminine hygiene products. Consider purchasing these items and then dropping them off on a regular basis (not just during the holidays!).
To find a shelter near you, visit www.homelessshelterdirectory.org. Other organizations you can volunteer with or send money to include:
Remember, even a small donation makes a difference… and means so much!