Oakland, CA (Press Release) — During this season of holiday giving, the plight of our unsheltered neighbors is likely in the hearts and minds of Oaklanders, many of whom will make charitable donations and contributions of various kinds to reduce the suffering of those on our streets.
Acknowledging the generosity and compassion of our community, the City of Oakland offers suggestions about what kinds of donations–and where–can make the most positive impacts to alleviate the hunger and discomfort of people living without shelter, and provides reminders about well-intended donations and assistance that end up causing more challenges, and in some cases harm, to the unsheltered community. While seemingly well-intentioned, dropping off perishable food at homeless encampments can become a health and safety issue for the campers, who lack adequate refrigeration, cooking facilities and sanitation options.
When food spoils, it attracts rodents and insects, which creates additional health and sanitation problems for the unsheltered residents. Consider donating non-perishable food, which doesn’t spoil, or making a difference with some of the many options for holiday giving are listed below. Please consider donating your time or resources throughout the year. Often the non-holiday times of the year are when agencies could use your help the most:
• East Oakland Community Project is a multi-service organization offering emergency and transitional housing in Oakland. http://www.eocp.net/donate/invest-in-eocp/
• Operation Dignity provides emergency, transitional and permanent housing for homeless veterans and their families in Alameda County. Operation Dignity also provides homeless street outreach in Oakland. https://operationdignity.org/our-wish-list/
• First Place for Youth serves foster kids who have the greatest needs in our community, helping them find their way as adults and building a foundation for a bright future https://www.firstplaceforyouth.org/how-you-can-help/donate/
• St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County provides relief and support to those in need through person-to-person assistance and collective action. They are the primary provider of winter shelter in the City of Oakland. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1406603?code=Website%202017
• Bay Area Community Services provides a variety of programs to assist people in increasing wellness and ending homelessness
• Covenant House Oakland provides sanctuary and support for homeless and trafficked youth, ages 18-24.
• St. Mary’s Center provides services for low-income individuals aged 55 and older, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
• Building Futures with Women and Children provides resources, programs and services to help Alameda County residents build futures free from homelessness and family violence. http://www.bfwc.org/donate.php
With respect to furniture/appliances, a reminder that it is illegal to drop off these items on any city streets, be it at an encampment or otherwise. Oaklanders should consider donating them to community service organizations that collect and redistribute or raise charitable funds through resale, etc.