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First, I want to give a huge shout out to John over at ESI Money and the whole Rockstar Finance crew. In early November, I saw a post from ESI about a chance to win a $100 gift card to use toward a charitable cause of my choice. Applicants sent over their ideas and the best were selected to receive a gift card. I decided to pitch a winter clothes donation to my local homeless veteran’s shelter, Veterans Inc. A few days later, I was thrilled to hear that I had been selected!
Support our Homeless Veterans
There are hundreds of veteran shelters in the United States, spanning across nearly every city and state. With that being said, chances are that there is a homeless veteran’s shelter within driving distance of your home.
The Current Landscape
As of this writing, there are approximately 40,000 homeless veterans in the United States on any given night. Of this figure, nearly 40% of these men and women do not have access to nightly shelter.
Honestly, like many others, I used to be skeptical when I’d see the “Homeless Veteran, Anything Helps” cardboard signs. But, after digging into the matter, the situation seems more serious than I expected.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, In the United States, 22 million military veterans account for 7 percent of the population. But veterans make up about 12 percent of the adult homeless population,
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were 370,000 unemployed veterans in 2017. 59% were age 25 to 54, 37% were age 55+, and 4% were age 18 to 24.
My Rockstar-Financed Contribution
With the $100 gift card, I purchased 6 winter coats and 6 winter hats from the Salvation Army and 24 pairs of thick, wool socks from Wal-Mart! Why so many socks? One thing I found out from my girlfriend Lauren’s volunteering efforts is that socks are some of the most requested articles of clothing in homeless shelters.
The day after my “shopping spree”, on Thanksgiving Morning, I walked into Veterans Inc. with two large bags full of clothing. The smiles and warm looks from the people in the veteran’s shelter made it all worthwhile. Most of the people I saw were just regular men and women who fell onto hard times and for a relatively small sum of money, I provided warm clothing to over a dozen of them.
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the minutia of your own financial journey. Even I’m guilty of this… but it’s not all about the money! Such a small sum of money can go such a long way for someone in need.
How to Get Involved
Like I mentioned before, there are countless homeless veteran shelters within the U.S. So, chances are, you can find a location within driving distance!
These shelters need anything that you can spare to donate. This includes food, clothing, household items, books, and anything else useful. Next time you’re thinking about decluttering your house or closet, make a donation instead of throwing it out.
Even if it’s not your local veterans shelter, there are hundreds or even thousands of places to donate to! Here are a handful of the most well-known organizations:
- Salvation Army
- Local churches / Thrift shops
- Epilepsy Foundation
You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have to donate thousands of dollars. Even giving away a pair of socks could substantially improve someone’s life.
Get out into your community and support your local organizations. You have more of an impact than you think.
My challenge for you this holiday season is to donate just one item.
That’s it. Just one item … (or many more if you’re feeling generous). We are so fortunate and it’s regular people like you and me who can truly make a difference in this world.
Share your donation ideas in the comments below to inspire others!
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