The loss of income related to the pandemic has led to increases in homeless populations across the country, and social-distancing requirements have made it difficult to house large groups of people together.
In pre-pandemic times, those experiencing homelessness might have already had a hard time finding meaningful social interactions or leisure activities. Now, COVID has exacerbated those problems and has been extremely difficult on their mental health.
With gathering places largely shuttered and the weather getting colder, there is even more demand to provide for Pittsburghers who are currently without shelter. Donations to homeless advocacy organizations were increasing even before the pandemic, but there is still a huge need.
Pittsburgh City Paper has compiled ways to donate and help groups that serve people currently suffering from homelessness. It’s best to donate goods and money that shelters and organizations are specifically asking for.
Financial donations are always encouraged, since that provides the shelters the flexibility to purchase what they need, when they need it. Some shelters and organizations to donate include: Northside Common Ministries, Women’s Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, Bethlehem Haven, East End Cooperative Ministry, and Pittsburgh Mercy (which operates a winter shelter at Smithfield United Church of Christ in Downtown).
If you want to give in-kind donations, you should purchase new items. Here are some details about the most necessary items some shelters are currently requesting.
Northside Common Ministries (ncmin.org) is looking for non-electronic forms of entertainment:
• Magazines and newspapers
• Any form of printed literature, or nature/photography books
• Art supplies, sketchbooks, notebooks, drawing paper
• Puzzles, games, cards, and the like
Pittsburgh Mercy Winter Shelters (412-232-5739) are asking for in-kind donations by appointment:
• Hats, scarves, gloves
• Boots (men’s and women’s, all sizes)
• Winter coats (men’s and women’s, especially sizes 1X-3X)
• Personal hygiene kits (toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, soap, washcloth, hand sanitizer, etc.)
Bethlehem Haven (bethlehemhaven.org/donate) are asking for donations, but can only accept a limited amount due to storage:
• Flip flops (used as shower shoes)
• Full-sized toiletries for men, women or neutral-smelling items — body wash, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, shampoo, soap, toothpaste
• Gift cards to purchase groceries, household items, or personal care items
• Grab-and-go snacks (cereal bars, granola bars, cracker packs, etc.)
• Twin sized sheets and comforters — NEW only.
• Underwear (various sizes-men and women)