National Runaway Safeline

 Shelters throughout the country provide safety and protection for people experiencing homelessness. But many struggle to stay fully stocked with popular, essential items and supplies.  


Here’s how you can help. Consider donating new (or in some cases, gently used) items to a shelter in your area. With scorching temps of summer spark particular, seasonal needs to keep people comfortable.  


Not sure what to donate? We’ve compiled a list of popular items that shelters typically need during the warm months. Of course, it never hurts to check with your local shelters to identify their greatest needs and confirm they’re able to distribute the items to shelter residents.  


Lightweight Clothing 

When it’s hot and sticky outside, wearing lightweight clothes, such as t-shirts, shorts, dresses, and skirts can keep you cool, fresh and comfortable.  



We’ve all grabbed our umbrella when heading out on a rainy day only to forget it at our destination when the rain stops! Just like we need to replace those lost and forgotten umbrellas, so do shelters. Donate umbrellas to help protect people against both the rain and the sun. 



People experiencing homelessness may not have consistent access to bathrooms or hygiene products, but shelters offer showers. Some top personal care items that shelters greatly appreciate include: 

  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes 
  • Dental floss 
  • Deodorant 
  • Shampoo and conditioner 
  • Soap 
  • Towels and washcloths 
  • Toilet paper 


Insect Repellent  

Warmer weather means insect and mosquito season. Insect repellent spray, wipes, stickers, or bracelets can help protect people from those unpleasant bug bites. 



Spending time outside in the sun puts us at risk for sunburn and skin cancer, but sunscreen with a high SPF provides much needed protection. Consider donating a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF values of 15 or higher. 


Sunburn Remedies 

A sunburn can be uncomfortable and even painful, but relief is available! Shelters need sunburn remedies like aloe vera lotion or gel or calamine lotion, which can be quite soothing. 



Summer months are a good time to buy a backpack for the upcoming school year. For youth residing in a homeless shelter, receiving a donated backpack helps them embrace the school year with confidence and excitement.  


Access to these necessary supplies will make a measurable difference to those staying at shelters. Your donation of these essential items provides not only immediate relief, but also contributes to the overall health and dignity of individuals experiencing homelessness. The National Runaway Safeline encourages you to get involved in your community, support local shelters, and spread awareness about the needs of people experiencing homelessness.  

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