Recently our church group made hygiene kits for the Eugene Mission and my family was in charge of finishing them off and delivering them. My girls loved filling up the last few items and my little one loved our trip to take them to the Eugene Mission! She talked the whole way there about how it's important to give to those in need.
Kids love putting kits together! If you're interested in helping out the Eugene Mission too, here's what they're in need of:
From the Community Engagement Desk at the EM:
What can YOU do to help the unhoused in our community?
In Lane County, we see a large volume of unhoused individuals – more than a community our size would see most places around the country. It’s not your imagination! There are MANY folks in need! Rather than be overwhelmed by the need on our community, try one of these ideas . . .
1) Smile! If you are in a safe situation, take the time to look that fellow human being in the eye, smile at them and go about your day. You HAVE made a difference. If you are so inclined – and, again, in a safe place! - have a conversation with that individual. Simply listen and continue on your way. You cannot save them or fix their situation, but listening goes a long way towards moving that individual toward wellness.
2) Volunteer! Join up with an organization doing good work in your community! An organization designed to serve the unhoused will have resources and a safe way to serve this population that a well-intentioned community member will not. Everyone can do something and we can do more TOGETHER for our unhoused community than any one of us can do alone.
3) Donate! You dollar(s) will go farther with a well-run organization than they will if given to a single individual. And don’t forget in-kind donations! We shelter, shower and clothe 100’s of individuals every day. How about hosting a Donation Drive at your business, church or school? ‘Undie Sunday’ anyone?!?
4) Be an Ambassador! Never feel helpless in the face of the growing need in our community. Educate yourself about your community’s resources and be prepared to direct someone to food, showers or shelter. Do not be distracted or discouraged by an untrue or outdated ‘excuse’ for why someone in need is not accessing services at the Eugene Mission or other community service organization. Tour the Eugene Mission and fellow community agencies to better understand the ‘how’ and ‘what’ and ‘why’ of services available.
5) Care Packages. If you want to hand something to an individual asking for money on the side of the road, you might consider one of the items below or even have a Care Package handy as you drive about town. Be prepared - what you have to offer may not be what they’re asking for. Smile and go about your way!
Care Packages for the Homeless
Individuals, Groups and Organizations may choose to assemble Care Packages for our unhoused community members. Specific needs will be related to an individual’s situation. The hygiene needs of someone in emergency shelter (the like Eugene Mission) will be different from someone camping in the woods or a family staying warm in their car. If in doubt, ask the individual in need what would be the most helpful to their situation.
If you are assembling kits for the Eugene Mission to distribute to our guests, keep in mind that we serve hundreds daily seeking to access basic serve as well as sleep up to 400 individuals each night in our shelters. Community members and groups are welcome to assemble only as many kits as they are able and Mission will handle the distribution.
Pack items in a clear zip bag, ideally, with an inventory at the front so we can see what’s in the bag. A heartfelt and encouraging message or card may be appreciated, but keep it short and hope filled. If resources are limited, pick the top few items in each category to include in your kits.
Toiletries & Health: Do NOT include large bottles of anything. Storage and safety of belongings is a significant concern for our unhoused community. Large bottles won’t fit in the backpack holding everything you own.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- 1st Aid kit (antiseptic wipe, band aid, and anti-biotic cream)
- Large Band-Aids
- Feminine pads/tampons
- Kleenex/wet wipes
- Lip balm/chap stick
- EmergenC/Airborne/Chewable multivitamins
- Socks (thermal or wool)
- Plastic Rain Poncho
Food: Include only sealed, prepared items and do NOT include anything that needs refrigeration, cooking or tools to open and consume. Keep in mind, the status of your teeth will limit how easily types of food will be to eat.
- Tuna/Chicken salad/Peanut butter cracker kits
- Breakfast bars/Cereal bars/Protein bars
- Vienna Sausage in pop-top can or foil Tuna packs (not requiring a can opener)
- Bottled water
- Single-packaged trail mix/Raisins/dried fruit
- Beef jerky
- Snack cups/applesauce/pudding cups
- Other welcomed items:
- Insect repellent wipes
- Plastic utensils
- Gallon-size Ziploc® bags
- Cough drops
- Small planner/journal and pen/colored pencils
- Emergency Blanket (the kind that reflects on one side and absorbs heat on the other)
- Sewing kit
- Nail clippers
Money: We can NOT recommend giving money to individuals panhandling living on the streets OR emergency shelter. Your dollar(s) will not change their housing situation, but will potentially be misused or put that individual at risk of theft. Instead, if in a safe situation, have a conversation with that person, purchase a much needed item and give it to them directly. Consider the following items . . .
- Weatherized Coat
- Scarf and Hat
- Sturdy Shoes
- Sleeping Bag
- New Underwear
- Can Opener
- Hand Warmers
- Baby Diapers and/or Infant formula
- Pet Food
- Flashlight or Headlamp and batteries
- Stamped Envelopes
- New Tarp
- Pay-as-you-go Cell Phone and Minutes
- Monthly Bus Pass
- A Day Pass to a gym, campground, or truck stop for a shower
We hope your family enjoys helping the Eugene Mission as much as our family does!