Three Actionable Steps You Can Take to Fight Poverty

Donate goods to charity

Whether you’re dropping off clothing donations for veterans or simply volunteering your time at a soup kitchen, the importance of helping families in need can’t ever be overstated. That’s because nearly 50 million Americans are currently living in poverty, at least according to report from November 2013. So, why are so many families suffering in this way? If you believe certain pundits, they’re just lazy and need to work harder in order to make a living for themselves. This is America, after all, the land of opportunity.

But a closer look at the topic of poverty reveals a greater chasm developing between the haves and the have-nots, and it has nothing to do with work ethic or a lack of having a drive to succeed. Certain newer theories on poverty put the blame on the flight of middle-class families to the suburbs (taking jobs with them) or on the presumably faulty welfare system in general. As these debates rage, meanwhile, the poor are still suffering in cities across the country.

The question shouldn’t be, “Why is there poverty?” but rather, “What can I do to help?” For that, answers are more readily available. All you need to do is ask.

Visiting local shelters and donating food.

The next time you’re in a hotel, be thankful you’re only staying there for a night or two. For an increasing number of Americans, hotels have become home, for $100 a night or so. That’s because a hotel room is better than no home at all. However, some Americans aren’t even that lucky and must rely on homeless shelters every single night. What you can do to help is visit these shelters and volunteer your time, then raise some canned goods to donate for the folks putting them to use.

Giving away old clothes and fabrics.

Sometimes, all it takes for helping families in need is cleaning out your closet. The best charities to donate to can often be those that accept old jackets, pants and sweaters, and every household has a bunch of those at its disposal at any given time. But don’t just stop at clothing — scour your house or apartment for old comforters, blankets and sheets you rarely use anymore. All kinds of fabric can either be put to use immediately, resold or recycled to help.

Writing your representatives.

Never underestimate the power of the political process. The pen has always been mightier than the sword, so take time to write to local government workers and demand that something be done about poverty. If you haven’t realized it by now, espousing political views alone won’t help end homelessness and poverty, but a few easy donations might make a huge difference. And the donations that tend to go the farther are the monetary ones — but you’ll typically be able to get a tax credit for those, which is an added bonus. Indeed, every year more than $300 billion is donated to charities across America.

For more information on helping families in need in your community, find a local shelter and start asking the simplest question of all, “What can I do to help?” Find out more about this topic here.