The opioid crisis is impacting our community in both subtle and obvious ways. We see the homeless camps and dirty needles. We also see family members, neighbors, and friends struggling to overcome debilitating addictions. For most of us, we want to help.
Compassionate donations of food and clothing often end up discarded when they are not well matched with recipients. Did you know that city and county workers spend several hours each week clearing heaps of wasted donations from public spaces? So how should we help? Here are suggestions for how you can give responsibly.
Give Your Time
It’s important you get involved in a way and at a level you are comfortable with. Unfortunately, some well-meaning efforts aren’t effective.
By giving responsibly and with the guidance of nonprofits or public agencies that work with individuals in need, you can ensure that your donation will be directed to the places it is most needed. Call a church, community-based organization, or government agency to find out how you can be of service. Volunteers are always needed. Take your individual sense of compassion and join it to a larger effort.
Donate With Care
One of the best ways to get involved and have an immediate impact is to make a donation to a nonprofit organization. Since money given directly to someone in need may not be used to purchase food or other basic items, your donation is not helping them create real change in their life. All of our goals should be to do what we can to end suffering and help guide people to a healthier future.
Donate to an organization that can provide appropriate support to those suffering from addiction or experiencing homelessness. Many of our local partners also have donation wish lists online that you can purchase items from and ship directly to them, or community events, including clothing drives. That way, there is no doubt that your generosity will be used to help someone. There are food banks, religious institutions, and government agencies that can direct your help to areas of greatest need in your community.
Connect Others With Resources
If someone you know is in need of immediate help with rent assistance, job training, food, shelter, or support services, we encourage you to contact 2-1-1, which is manged by Volunteers of America Western Washington. The 2-1-1 information and referral specialists are available around the clock to connect people with resources in their community.