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Begin with Basics

In many places across the U.S.,

the number of people without permanent homes is hitting an all-time high.

Many are struggling not just to make ends meet, but to afford even the basics, like food, clean clothes, hygiene supplies, and decent shoes. These kinds of basic goods are essential to good health. It might be difficult to imagine what it’s like to live without everyday items, but there are ways you can help make things better for people in need.

Ready to Make a Difference?

Check out our Activity Finder or download our Give Back App for teens on iOS and Android to find ways to help near you.

Create an account so you can favorite activities and track your impact.

Keep reading to learn about facts, how you can help, our nonprofit partners, recommended books to read, additional resources, and lesson plans.

Did you know…

500,000+ people in the U.S. are homeless. (And the number is rising.)

About 34%  of people without homes don’t have a safe place to sleep.

40% of Americans struggle to afford basic needs.

58% of families are forced to cut back on food to afford everyday hygiene products, like soap.

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How can you help?

The housing crisis in the United States is a big deal, but even if you feel powerless, you have what it takes to make a difference now.

  • Collect hygiene items. Even everyday items like soap and toothpaste can be too expensive for people living in poverty. You can work to collect as many travel-sized items as you can, or focus on one, through something like a Toothpaste Tuesday.
  • Host a backpack drive. Many people without homes are forced to carry all their life’s belongings wherever they go. By collecting and donating backpacks, you can help them carry clothes, food and medications safely and more easily.
  • Donate diapers. It’s not just adults who are struggling with homelessness, but people of all ages – including babies. Help families out by creating baby gift baskets with essential items or donating diapers.
  • Create welcome home baskets. Moving into a permanent home after being unhoused is a reason to celebrate. Many local organizations gift “Welcome Home” baskets filled with all the basics. You can create them for individuals or for entire families.
  • Find a cause you love. Pick an issue or project in your community that speaks to you – and speak up. Start your search now.

You can also join us for our yearly Create the Change Day, an afternoon that shows just how fun and fulfilling giving back can be. See if we’re hosting an event near you, or get ideas for hosting your own.

Our Nonprofit Partners

We work with inspiring partners across the nation to help provide the basics to individuals and families. These are just some of them:

St. Francis House

Boston

From providing a warm meal to basic goods, St. Francis House works to give the poor and homeless community what they need to rebuild their lives.

 

PATH

Los Angeles

By helping the most vulnerable populations, PATH is paving the way to a future without homelessness.

Project WeHOPE

The Bay Area

They help the under-served and homeless rebuild their lives by connecting them to resources and services they might be missing.

 

Sacred Heart

The Bay Area

What started as a way to feed homeless individuals in one neighborhood has transformed into an effort to supply basic goods to an entire community in need.

 

Additional Online Resources

Interested in learning more? Check out these organizations and their websites for more information!

13 Essential Items to Donate
Toilet paper. Small bottles of shampoo. Bicycles. Get ideas for what to donate to your community.

Feeding America [Study]
In this study by Feeding America, you get a deeper look into how many families struggle to afford basic needs and the impact that has on them.

UN Sustainable Development Goals
With hopes of achieving by 2030the Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all global citizens.

*The books, websites, charities, and/or other entities we share does not imply explicit endorsement by PGK, nor does PGK have any responsibility for the content provided by other organizations or websites. Content on this site is provided for informational purposes only.

Educational Materials

Teachers and parents can teach kids about helping animals in the classroom or at home with our educational materials.

Choose the grade level below to find a lesson plan.

Elementary School Lesson Plan

Overview

This lesson will focus on homelessness as it relates to basic needs and poverty. Students will imagine what it’s like to not have a permanent home and how to help those less fortunate.

Objectives
  • Students will gain an understanding of homelessness as it relates to basic needs and poverty
  • Students will reflect on ways to help the homeless
Time

Two 30 - 45 minute sessions

Subject

English Language Arts, Literature, Writing



Sign up or log in to see or download the full lesson plan.

Middle School Lesson Plan

Overview

This lesson will address the national problem of homeless in America by exploring the causes of homelessness in our society, various people that are affected, and individual triggers for homelessness. In addition, this lesson will explore the stereotypes around homeless people and the reality of those who are affected, focusing specifically on homeless families and children.

Objectives
  • Students will gain an understanding of homelessness in America and the contributing factors to this national problem
  • Students will examine the various populations that are homeless and the individual triggers that lead to homelessness
  • Students will reflect on ways to help homeless people, specifically families and children
Time

Two 60 minute sessions

Subject

English Language Arts, Literature, Writing



Sign up or log in to see or download the full lesson plan.

High School Lesson Plan

Overview

This lesson will examine the socioeconomic factors contributing to homelessness and poverty in America, while focusing on initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and poverty.

Objectives
  • Students will explore socioeconomic factors that contribute to homelessness and poverty
  • Students will focus on initiatives aimed at reducing homelessness and poverty
Time

Two 60 minute sessions

Subject

English Language Arts, Literature, Writing



Sign up or log in to see or download the full lesson plan.