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Erin0620  (Level: 77.2 - Posts: 737)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 11:40 AM


We are racking our brains trying to figure out what "fun" gift to give this year. Last year we were able to give over 500 "wind up" radio/flashlight combos, but we can't come up with any ideas. We have about $4-$5 to spend per person. We are expecting about 1000 homelss for this years Christmas dinner. We have been blessed with enough clothing and necessities, but the joy a fun gift can bring is very important to us. I thought hand warmers may work, but they aren't very fun and can only be used a limited amount of times. Time is limited, so I thought I would ask my cyber family for their thoughts. You guys are all so creative...any ideas what you might appreciate if you were in these circumstances? (no flasks, you bunch of drunks )
PS-I encourage everyone not to forget about those less fortunate, especially this time of year. Give to your local shelter-clothing, blankets, food, money-whatever you can. This ministry started with one former homeless woman and a stack of bologna sandwiches and now feeds over 400 (sometimes closer to 1000) a week. There is nothing so small that it won't be appreciated

Stone  (Level: 35.0 - Posts: 259)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 11:47 AM

You say you have clothes. Does that include hats and scarves? Is there any way to get a small rucksack to hold these things? I once found canvas rucksacks at a close-out store for 3 bucks each. I am "homeless" but I am fortunate to have a wonderful cousin who shelters me. God Bless Gussie! God Bless you and all the others who do this!

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3640)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 11:50 AM

How about those flashlights that never need batteries. You shake them and they come on.

We support Christmas for Kids in our community. I let my kids go pick a child of their choice off the tree. My 12 year old son was really touched when he saw another boy his age who just wanted a coat for Christmas. So he bought him a coat, we included some candy, a McDonalds gift card, then my husband, who is a big softy said "you can't just give a 12 year old boy a coat for Christmas." And then he stuffed some cash in each coat pocket.

Erin0620  (Level: 77.2 - Posts: 737)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 11:55 AM

We do have scarves, hats, socks, undies, all the essentials. A tough bag does sound like a good idea, too. Our director really has her heart set on doing something "fun". We usually start working on Christmas around July, but this year we have had alot of work trying to get a new facility built, and have procrastinated. I'm not sure we will be able to pull this one out by the 19th...

Tuzilla  (Level: 146.5 - Posts: 3845)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 11:57 AM

Warm shoes and boots. Nothing is worse than cold feet.

Greyghost  (Level: 69.0 - Posts: 640)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:01 PM

I think it is just wonderful that you are doing this,the giving gifts as i call them,when they thank me i just say,pass on a gift when you hit better times,wow,do they smile,that is MY xmas. How about gloves/mittens,etc of course i have no idea where you live,maybe those are not needed.

What about razors,etc,it means a lot to just be able to shave,brush teeth,etc. Whatever you decide you will surely make their Christmas.God bless you.

Cristinap  (Level: 31.4 - Posts: 133)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:02 PM

Pen and paper set (diary). Some of these guys are really creative and don't even have a pen and paper. This can keep any of us entertained imagine if you were homeless.

Erin0620  (Level: 77.2 - Posts: 737)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:03 PM

Lo- that is so sweet and a great way to teach your child empathy and generosity. There is nothing more heart breaking than a helpless child in need.
We are very fortunate to have all the clothing, shoes, boots, toiletries and what nots. Last year we gave the wind up flashlight/radio. I wish we could have stumbled across more of those. I told our director about the shake up flashlight, and she is going to go to the area dollar stores to see if she can find them.

Erin0620  (Level: 77.2 - Posts: 737)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:06 PM

I thought about a little stationary set with stamps, or phone cards. I think she wants a wow factor for them that we may not be able to do this year.

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3640)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:43 PM

I'll keep thinking. I'm the idea guy at work so just give me a few.

Eesusbejesus  (Level: 75.0 - Posts: 3640)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:46 PM

OK, how about goody bags of different candies and sweets. Probably not something they get all the time but what a fun surprise.

Joelwdonnal  (Level: 123.5 - Posts: 268)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 12:56 PM

A gift card to an all you can eat restaraunt would be nice, but a lot of homeless people are probably turned away from such places...which is sad,but that's America sometimes. It is very commendable what you are doing Erin, God bless you for all you do.
Joel and Donna

Rach66  (Level: 93.6 - Posts: 23)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 1:02 PM

I run a program for homeless and runaway kids in upstate NY. This year, they are all getting a goody-bag with a mini transistor radio ($4 at our local Dollar General), first aid kits donated by the Red Cross, and McDonald's gift cards. The local churches and civic organizations are great about donating hygiene products, socks, mittens, etc. Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops are always looking for projects to sponsor as well, and have been terrific about collecting food for the kids. Good luck; I am sure whatever you come up with will be greatly appreciated!

Happy holidays to all!

Siouxsie  (Level: 104.6 - Posts: 145)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 1:03 PM

There's no end to the games that can be played with a deck of cards. I don't know if your group finds card-playing objectionable, but if not, a deck of cards with different scenes can be fun to look at and play with. And, for you gutter-minded Sploofusers, not that kind of scenes!

Stone  (Level: 35.0 - Posts: 259)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 1:09 PM

Erin, remember the little cups that would telescope out to use and then fold back to the size of a pillbox? Or, a plastic coffee cup that they could keep with them? I would imagine a drinking cup would be useful. Maybe an Army/Navy surplus store would have something.

Osuzannacollage  (Level: 132.1 - Posts: 1299)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 2:01 PM

A most welcome gift for many (especially children and families) would be a professional photo shoot. Perhaps you could find one photographer who would be willing to donate his time to this project. So many children grow up without any pictures of themselves, and a true luxury for many a family would be a group shot at Christmas. Even those who are basically alone might welcome such a treat.

I'm not talking about a Glamour Shots production, but one good picture of each individual/family with a good background, and perhaps "Christmas 2007" displayed in it. I'm thinking of a 5X7 or 8X10 for each participant. Surely the actual costs could be covered for the amount you suggest, and there must be a photographer in your area who is willing to give back to the community and bless some lives in a wonderful way.

Barring this, setting up a Polaroid shot with an appropriate background that does not mention their neediness would also bring a lot of smiles.


Erin0620  (Level: 77.2 - Posts: 737)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 4:31 PM

Thank you to everyone. Your suggestions were inspired! I will let you know what she decides upon. Thank you to the people who think I am doing some great thing, but I work at this ministry for completely selfish reasons. My husband is very conservative, almost to the point of being archaic, and doesn't like the thought of his wife working for money (not that we are crazy rich or anything, we just live within our means). I have had several jobs but he gives me so much grief, I always leave. He is very happy with me working here (I think he considers it our way of tithing), and I could not be more pleased. I love being the "support system" in an office, and because I am a super nerd, I love paperwork! I get to have a reason to get up and dress in something other than sweats. I get to feel like I am making a difference, and I work with these really awesome people. I have become very spiritual, I love to "get my praise on", and we start the morning reading a verse or two, praying for each other, thanking the Lord. I've never had a job where it is normal to tote your Bible with you. If that's your thing like it is mine, than it becomes a joy rather than a job. Of course, if you aren't really into all the Christian thing (or any other faith), and you still have a desire to reach out, there are plenty of secular groups that do similar work. But as far as me doing this 100% altruistic thing....not so much. I probably get more joy from it than I give. Wow, I sure did blab on on and on. Love you guys for you support and for always being "there" with answers and suggestions. Thank you!

Greyghost  (Level: 69.0 - Posts: 640)
Tue, 11th Dec '07 5:23 PM

Love you as well,it come from being adopted into the Sploofus family.

Kaelin  (Level: 49.2 - Posts: 1685)
Wed, 12th Dec '07 7:51 AM

You could check with Wal-Mart as well - they are known for contributing - although they are usually out of funds at the end of the year - but I know that there are games - like checkers, chess, cards, etc - some of them come in enclosed tins - they might help with donations or taking a percentage off that would help you meet your target price. I know they help our schools with percentages off to buy incentive gifts for kids as well - check with local businesses to see if they will make some year end donations - and remind them it's a great tax write off! Good luck with your project!

Geophile  (Level: 168.3 - Posts: 1553)
Thu, 13th Dec '07 1:29 PM

Erin, it's not only great that you have found your niche, but you've worked through your husband's attitude. That is admirable. One of my daughters would have left skid marks by now. Everything has to be done her way.

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