The homeless population in New York City has reached an all-time high this past September, with 60,000 individuals living in homeless shelters. As the weather gets colder and food becomes even more scarce, the holidays should be a time for all of us to not only be thankful for all that we have but to consider the less fortunate and give back. Here are some ways you can help out the homeless this year.
If You Have a Free Day…Volunteer
Cathedral High School (350 E. 56th St.) is having a day full of community service opportunities involving no-sew blankets, snowglobes, cards and DIY Christmas decorations on Nov. 19.
For something you can do on the day of, Family-to-Family, an organization that connects people to families in need, is hosting a Stuff a Shirt project. As you plan on stuffing your stomachs with food, they ask families to stuff large T-shirts with items pertaining to personal hygiene — items that are often neglected.
If You Want to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner Out…Choose a Restaurant that Gives Back
If you’re planning on getting a Thanksgiving meal with friends, check out these restaurants that are donating a percentage of their profits to charities. Bubby’s will be giving 25 percent of proceeds to NYC Rescue Mission, which helps homeless men and women by providing them not only with food and clothing, but also with recovery programs and opportunities to find careers.
Melissa Silver, co-owner of Bubby’s, keeps the values of the holiday in mind when running her restaurant, which opened on Thanksgiving Day 26 years ago.
“It is a time to reflect on blessings and to give back to neighbors who need [our] help,” Silver said.
In Brooklyn, the Buttermilk Channel is partnering with Neighbors Together again this Thanksgiving and donating 15 percent of proceeds from their three-course dinner as well. Neighbors Together is an organization that focuses on helping the homeless in low-income areas of Brooklyn.
If You Prefer an Old-Fashioned Food Drive…NYU’s Annual Administrative Council Food Drive
NYU’s popular annual Administrative Management Council food drive has already begun. If you haven’t seen their drop-off locations already set up in the lobby of Bobst, go check them out to see other places where you can drop off your donations. You can even donate online until Nov. 23.
If You’re Broke but Have a Meal Plan…Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Some students are taking the matter into their own hands and using their meal swipes to reach out to the homeless by giving them to-go boxes filled with dining hall food. Maria Ortega, an LS freshman, plans to make use of her meal plan by donating this holiday season.
“I think it would be good to use our excess meal swipes at the end of the semester to give meals to homeless people,” Ortega said. “The full 250 flex plan is far too many meals for me anyway.”
If You Want to Continue to Help Even After Thanksgiving…Clean Up at a Soup Kitchen
Helping the homeless shouldn’t just be for the holidays. You can help out after Thanksgiving by cleaning up. Soup kitchens have a high volume of volunteers on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, but lose many after when they are left with a mess after the big day. Stop by after Thanksgiving and volunteer to help clean up.
There are many opportunities to give back this year at NYU and around the city, so make sure to take a moment and give something that others can be thankful for too.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 14 print edition. Email Liv Chai at [email protected]