How to arrange a shoebox appeal to help homeless people this winter

At this time of year, many people turn their thoughts towards those less fortunate and kindly donate shoeboxes, gifts, toiletries, food and other items to homeless people so they may be more comfortable for the winter or enjoy some Christmas goodwill.  

We can help facilitate this by passing your donations on to the people we support.  Here’s what to do:

Contact your local project…

To donate items through The Wallich, please contact a project in your local area to find out what they need and to check that they are able to accept your donation – visit the Our Projects page for contact details.

We have projects right across Wales delivering services that meet the needs of local communities. They vary in terms of the number and type of people they support. Whilst we do have storage space at many of our projects, we are often overwhelmed with donations at this time of year which can mean our space can fill up or run out pretty quickly – so it’s best to check before you start a collection.

In most circumstances, donations will need to be delivered but other arrangements may be made locally, at the discretion of the project manager.

Plan your donation…

Here are some top tips and things you’ll need to consider if you are planning to collect or donate shoexboes, Christmas gifts, rucksacks, food or clothing for homeless people.

SHOEBOXES, RUCKSACKS, DIGNITY PACKS

This type of donation would be most welcomed by our rough sleepers’ outreach teams.  Toiletries (wet wipes, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste), combs/brushes, chocolate bars, socks and gloves would be very useful.  The teams are also able to make use of sleeping bags, roll mats and torches.  Duvets cannot be accepted.

CLOTHING

The items needed most are hats, coats, hoodies, gloves and socks.  We do accept underwear but only if it is brand new – please do not donate used underwear as we will not pass it on.  Some projects may be able to accept other items; your local project will be able to advise you what they can make best use of at the current time.

CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Gifts are always welcome and please do label them if they are more suitable for men, women or children specifically.  Most of our projects support only adults but the Youth and Family projects listed in our directory support children too.  The adults we support may indeed struggle to provide Christmas gifts for their children so we can use kids’ gifts in this way too.

Please note that we cannot accept donations containing alcohol as these would be unsuitable for some of the people we support.

FOOD

Non-perishable foods that do not require much preparation are best, particularly for rough sleepers without access to facilities.  Our hostels and nightshelters may be able to accept other types of foods but this will depend on the storage and facilities available to them.

We can sometimes accept large quantities of food or fresh food that is near its use-by date, but as it will not always be possible for us to use such donations in time we must occasionally turn them down.  For projects where meals are provided, we need to ensure that we can always provide those meals – so we have long-term arrangements in place to make this happen.

A couple of things to consider…

Please remember that not all of the people we support are currently sleeping on the streets.

Whilst many of the people we support have slept rough in the past, or are currently sleeping rough, our mission is to get people off the streets and into accommodation as quickly as possible. Sleeping rough is extremely dangerous, particularly during the winter. People are not only exposed to the harsh weather but are also vulnerable to abuse, attack and exploitation.

The people we support may remain in accommodation with us for anywhere between 2 months and 18 months. This may be due to requiring ongoing support or due to a shortage of available accommodation that they can to move onto. Whilst they cannot afford luxuries, they will have at least some basic provisions of food and clothing, so toiletries and gift sets are most welcome.

Logistics and social media

If you are asking friends and family to donate to an appeal, do think about how you’ll store and transport the donations.  Appeals on social media have ‘gone viral’ in the past which is great – but this level of appeal will need some planning!

Finally, a box of similar items (e.g. a box of toothpaste or a box of cereal bars) is just as useful as a mixed shoebox, particularly if the supplies run into the new year – people can quickly access what they need, when they need it.

If you would like to help homeless people in another way…

If you would like to make a financial donation to help us continue our work, please visit our Donate page.

To get help for someone who is homeless or sleeping rough, find details on our Help and Advice page.

If you would like to volunteer with us, please visit our Volunteering page.
*Updated – please note that our seasonal vacancies are now full.  We are accepting volunteer applications for placements in the new year.

Thank you for helping us to bring some cheer to those who need it most.