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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Donate to local homeless shelters

(Courtesy of Getty Images)
Two people place food items in a box labeled “Donation.” Opinion Columnist Alberto Briones encourages people to donate to homeless shelters this winter. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

Homelessness is caused by complex reasons, creating a difficult cycle of dependency. People should help make a difference by volunteering at local homeless shelters, helping serve meals and organizing activities.

Volunteers can arrange clothing drives with local organizations by collecting warm clothing and other necessities. The typical misconceptions of homeless people are that they choose to be homeless because they don’t want to work or struggle with addictions. These misconceptions are harmful because they dehumanize those affected and allow society to ignore the problem.

Luis Amezquita, a senior political science major, has been involved in donating meals and food items to Hope Haven, a homeless shelter in DeKalb County.

“When I used to work at The Lincoln Inn, we would donate a lot of food. Then as part of student council in high school, we donated food items,” Amezquita said.

Picture yourself sleeping in an environment without warmth or a bed for you to rest on. This is a reality for a significant number of individuals in America, and they need the help of volunteers to contribute to their well-being.

In 2022, 582,500 Americans were homeless, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development

It is not enough to merely feel sorry; people must take action. A small amount of understanding can have a significant influence.

Economic struggles, alongside a lack of affordable housing, are major causes of homelessness. Economic instability leads to unemployment, which makes families financially insecure. Substance addiction, family conflicts and domestic violence can break relationships leading to homelessness, especially for teens, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Criminal records can also affect job prospects and housing, and health issues and medical bills can lead to homelessness. Communities can be more supportive of the underprivileged by making donations to their local homeless shelters and food pantries. Money, paper products, cleaning supplies and non-perishable foods are items that are always needed in those establishments.

“I think it’s important to have more shelters because I’ve heard stories all the time about there not being enough rooms, and some people not qualifying for rooms,” Amezquita said.

All of us are members of the community, and even the smallest of actions may significantly impact the lives of individuals in need. The more we learn about homelessness and how it affects different systems like education, health care and criminal justice, the more we can help prevent it.

There is no guarantee that we will be able to fix everyone’s problems. Still, it is essential to communicate, share and show compassion. Everyone deserves a place to call home, and by working together, we can make a difference in our community.

Angie Shaulis, a coordinator at Hope Haven, says all meals they serve at the shelter are donations made by the community.

A sign depicts the Hope Haven logo and street address. Opinion Columnist Alberto Briones recommends donating items from Hope Haven’s “needs list” to the local shelter. (Northern Star File Photo) 

“We ask from volunteers to continue to help us run the shelter with donations from our ‘needs list’ and hot meals to serve. We also ask volunteers to donate paper products and cleaning supplies,” Shaulis said.

Let’s support one another, think about other people and spread the word. It is possible that being helpful and kind might go a long way, particularly during the colder months.

“I think students can and should take advantage of the different departments and organizations that already do the work and help them. Greek life is big, and they do a lot of service work,” said Amezquita.

Hope Haven is always looking for volunteers. Volunteers can schedule to serve or donate a meal by contacting directly at 815-758-5765. They also take money donations and have a list of items they need at the shelter.

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