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Homelessness in the Bay Area: Ways to get involved

Written by Ariel Pan

Make care kits: Care packages are usually gallon-size zipper lock plastic bags that contain small toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste and combs, and non-perishable food items like granola bars. Money is not recommended. Donate the care kits to a local shelter, or hand them out to the homeless directly.

Project WeHOPE: At this East Palo Alto-based homeless shelter, volunteers can work on-site by helping people with laundry and serving dinner, or they can work off-site at St. Samuel Church on Thursdays, packaging groceries for the Kids NOW program. Sign up for a shift at least 24 hours in advance.

Through Key Club: Key Club is another service club on campus that students can join to get involved. Visit the Key Club website to check out its service guides, which include ideas like holding birthday parties for kids at homeless shelters. Decorations and food can be donated and it is recommended to have three or more people involved.

Glide Church volunteer programs: Located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, Glide Church’s Daily Free Meals Program requires 85 volunteers each day to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are open 364 days of the year. Volunteers bus tables, serve food or hand out silverware. It’s a great way to brighten someone’s day.

Through YCS: Take part in the Youth Community Service (YCS) club on campus to join existing service projects or find service-minded people to start a service project of your own choosing. Visit the YCS website to see monthly service shout-outs that provide opportunities for people to volunteer in events like September’s CROP Hunger Walk.

Episcopal Community Services, San Francisco: Although most of the volunteer opportunities are for individuals 18 or older, you only have to be 16 to serve breakfast or dinner at homeless shelters Next Door and The Sanctuary, and at least 12 to serve in the Senior Center. Visit their website for more volunteer requirements, like necessary vaccines and background checks. They also accept gently-used clothing, jewellery, housewares and furniture for Community Thrift Store in San Francisco.

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