Helping homeless veterans is a great way to show your appreciation for their service. You can help homeless veterans whether you are an individual or an organization. If you are an individual, donate food, clothing, or your professional services to veterans. If you are an organization, partner with the VA to hire homeless veterans or provide them with affordable housing.
Find a homeless shelter near you.
You can find local homeless shelters by visiting the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ website at http://www.nchv.org, or the Department of Veterans Affairs website at https://www.va.gov. Enter your zip code in the search engine. A list of shelters located near you will appear.
You can also find shelters by calling 1-800-VET-HELP.
Donate clothing and personal care items.
Donate clean and intact shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, scarves, and suits. Personal care items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, soap, and feminine hygiene products are always needed at homeless shelters as well.
Only donate new and unused personal care items, underwear, T-shirts, and socks.
Because homeless veterans are in need of personal care items and clothing the most, these are great donations.
Donate nonperishable food items.
Nonperishable food items include canned goods and pre-packaged foods with a clear expiration date printed on them. Donate canned goods like vegetables, fruits, tuna, and soup. Donate pre-packaged foods like macaroni and cheese, ramen, and other boxed foods.
Because shelters need to restock their pantries on a daily basis, food donations are a great way to support your local homeless shelter.
Donate money if you don’t have food or clothes to give.
Write a check or make a cash contribution to your local homeless shelter or charity. Money donations enable shelters and charities to provide homeless veterans with clothing, food, and personal items once they run out of these items.
Offer a homeless shelter your services.
Homeless shelters have a variety of volunteer positions. Help handout clothing, food, and personal items. You can also help prepare meals at shelters. Call a homeless shelter in your area and ask about their volunteer opportunities.
If you have a skill, like writing or drawing, see if you can offer activities or free instruction at the shelter.
Promote your local homeless shelter.
Help coordinate and raise funds for a drive by contacting schools, business groups, and churches for contributions. You can also help promote your local homeless shelter by creating and handing out fliers for their events.
Call and ask a shelter in your local area about ways that you can help promote them in your local community.
Volunteer at Stand Down events.
To find out about Stand Down events in your area, visit the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ website. The website contains a list of Stand Downs that are currently operating in different states in the U.S. Call the contact person for that program to find out more information about an upcoming event.
Stand Down events are 2 to 3 day events that provide homeless veterans with food, clothing, healthcare services, personal hygiene services, housing and employment referrals, and benefits counseling.
Become a mentor for homeless veterans.
Many homeless veterans need help with learning basic social, life, and job skills. Contact a local homeless shelter or charity to see what kind of mentoring programs they have available.
Provide mental health services if you are a counselor.
If you are licensed mental health professional, you can offer homeless veterans your services. Volunteer at a local VA hospital or medical center. Visit the website of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans to find VA medical centers and hospitals near you.
Offer legal services if you are a lawyer.
Many homeless veterans need help applying for benefits, housing programs, and other programs they qualify for. Volunteer your legal services for free or at a low cost at a local homeless shelter or charity in your area.
Hire a veteran if you are an employer.
In order to transition out of homelessness, veterans need jobs. If you are an employer, you can provide homeless veterans with job training. You can also work with the VA’s Community Employment Coordinators (CEC) to enlist, interview, and hire veterans for entry and mid-level jobs.
Provide affordable housing if you are a landlord.
As a landlord, you can develop or set aside a percentage of housing units for low-income veterans. You can also partner with the VA by agreeing to accept Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) vouchers as payment for rent.
Depending on your city or state, you may be able to receive tax benefits for providing homeless veterans with affordable housing.
Conduct a company drive if you manage an organization.
Contact a local homeless veterans shelter or charity. Let them know that your company would like to organize a drive to collect household goods, clothing, and food for homeless veterans. The shelter or charity will be able to provide you with resources such as contacts and promotional materials to facilitate the drive.
As an organization, hosting drives for homeless veterans is a great way to get positive media coverage as a socially responsible company.