Homeless for the Holidays, How You Can Help

As we prepare ourselves for these upcoming cold months, it can be easy to forget about those in Las Cruces who do not have adequate shelter or food. A person’s home plays a huge role in all aspects of their life and family, including mental stability. Families thrive most when they live in an affordable home in a safe and secure area. According to Las Cruces’ Live Well Summit background report drafted in March 2017, over 600 Las Cruces Public Schools students reported experiencing homelessness at some time during the 2015-16 school year. Data is not given regarding the percentage of these students who had mental health problems, which would be dramatically worsened by homelessness.

According to the same report, over half of Dona Ana County residents can be described by the term “housing burdened,” meaning that they often have problems paying for food, transportation, clothing and/or medical needs. Environmental and social factors play a huge role in one’s physical health too, as stress and lack of safety can cause illness. The various factors of being homeless take a huge role on a child’s educational experience. For this reason, it’s crucial for the City of Las Cruces to come together and provide for needy families, so that financial troubles are not passed down through the next generations.

So, how can we help?

One of the best ways you can benefit the homeless population in your community is by donating your unwanted clothes to a local homeless shelter. Old jackets, blankets, sweatpants, and hoodies are much needed during the cold months, and it only takes a few seconds to drop them off. You can also go to a thrift store and buy these items if you don’t want to part with yours.

Another easy way to give back to your community is to volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter. These places see a rise in the number of visitors during the holiday season, as more people need warm places to stay and warm food. Duties are usually simple, including serving food and helping with clean up afterward. Volunteers usually work in shifts of only a couple hours, and it looks great on your resume too!

The other thing I suggest that everyone try this season is to get involved with some holiday-themed community service. For example, try getting a group together to make some cute Thanksgiving baskets for families who can’t afford to do anything special. One of the best ways to find projects like these is to check out local churches and community centers. College students get a long winter break, so don’t waste it! You’ll enjoy your holiday season much more if you help others make the most of theirs.