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What Items Do Homeless Shelters Need Most?

This article is brought to you by Dignity Health

Providing quality affordable healthcare to communities across 20 states has been an integral part of Dignity Health's mission for over a century. These services support a wide range of patients based on the needs of each individual community.

While hospitals across the system partner with local homeless agencies with a myriad of services and grants, here are examples of how three Dignity Health hospitals in California have helped shelters in their area. If you want to get involved, watch for upcoming events or get in touch with homeless centers in your area, to see how you can donate specific items to help this vulnerable population.

Collecting New Socks In Santa Cruz

At the top of the needs list for shelters are: toiletries, portable privacy screens, twin bed sheets, towels, and new socks. To help, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital collected nearly 2,000 pairs of new socks for the homeless as part of the annual Great Kindness Challenge, an annual campaign that inspires a culture of kindness in school children globally everywhere. According the staff, new socks are the most needed item for homeless patients when they leave the hospital.

"Dominican recognizes that humankindness in society, as well as in the hospital setting, leads to a happier and healthier community," Martina O'Sullivan, Dominican Hospital director of community engagement, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "We are thrilled to have partnered with our local schools on the Great Kindness Challenge this year to teach kids, and each other, about kindness in this special way."

Of course, monetary donations are always welcome and support purchases of wheelchairs and other medical equipment that are needed when a homeless patient is discharged. In Santa Cruz, Good Shepherd Catholic School recently raised $3,500 for homeless patients through a student Jog-a-Thon, which will be directed to Dominican Hospital Foundation's Patient Support Fund.

Recycling Altoids Tins in Merced

Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center Merced has funded Merced County Rescue Mission for its Hope Respite Care program to help support homeless patients who need a place to recover in a safe environment while they receive outpatient medical care. The program has partnered locally with Merced Adventist Church to assist in their effort to collect and fill 100 empty Altoids tins with items such as Q-tips, Bandaids, alcohol pads, fingernail clippers, needle and thread to hand out to homeless individuals.

The hospital's marketing director, Bob McLaughlin, explains that these tins are lightweight, sturdy and just the right size to fit into someone's pocket, stocked with a few essentials.

Personal Supplies In Southern California

According to Kimberly VandenBosch, a Dignity Health VP in Southern California, "There is a significant need to provide for the homeless population in Southern California. In fact, as a large majority of the shelters are specific for women and children, there is a even greater challenge to identify shelters that men can access."

Regardless of gender, the items that many shelters need are: Bottled water, new underwear and socks, gift cards from chain stores for shoes, personal grooming products such as deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, brushes, tissues, toilet paper, feminine hygiene, travel size soap and shampoo, baby wipes, sleeping bags and reading glasses.

This article was written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr via for CBS Local Media

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