This Christmas while you’re thinking about the gifts you’ll get for those you love, perhaps you could give one to a stranger in need.

When you’re living on the street, gifts are the last thing on your mind but as shown in this video, something that brings a great deal of joy. We hope you’re inspired to add an extra gift to your shopping list this year!

As the founder of Ripple Kindness Project, I’m keen to be actively involved in caring for my local community, so I’m a member of several committees designed to help improve lives or offer support to people who are struggling financially or emotionally. I’m also part of the “chaplaincy” or student well-being committee at my boy’s primary school (though they are both now in secondary) which has given me great insight into the daily struggles some families face.

Though Ripple has helped with Christmas goodies and other school fundraiser ideas in the past, this year, I decided to put the word out to the community to widen the ripple and make it a much happier time for as many as possible.

The aim was to support the school Chaplain by providing gifts for his most vulnerable families and also help some friends who work with people experiencing homelessness or are at risk of ending up on the street by providing backpacks filled with essentials and Christmas treats. read more →

In September of 2007 Jon Linton began gathering imagery to document the homeless on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. That Fall he had volunteered both time and resources at a local homeless shelter to better understand the circumstance and plight of those without a place to call home. His project took shape, when the first man he photographed wept as he asked him his name. “You have no idea how long it has been since someone cared to ask my name”, he stated.

Through the course of this journey Jon has met many souls that through a bad set of circumstance, addiction or mental illness find themselves without a door to walk through at day’s end. They had fallen into what some had referred to as an “Invisible World". The I Have a Name Project is a humble attempt to bring dignity and humanity to those less fortunate among us.

Jon encourages you to go out and help another in need. He says your soul will thank you and reminds you to always practice compassion with these 10 tips that will help you better understand how you can help someone in need.

What You Can Do to Help the Homeless

1. Respect the homeless as individuals

Give homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.

2. Respond with kindness

We can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless when we respond to them, rather than ignore or dismiss them. Try a kind word and a smile.

3. Develop lists of shelters

Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your phone book.

4. Bring food

It's as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.

5. Give money

One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to non-profit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.

6. Donate clothing

Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good condition, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.

7. Donate a bag of groceries

Load up a bag full of non-perishable groceries and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn't have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like.

8. Volunteer at a shelter

Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency.

9. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

Soup kitchens provide one of the basics of life, nourishing meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged members of the community. Volunteers generally do much of the work, including picking up donations of food, preparing meals, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. To volunteer your services, contact your local soup kitchen, mobile food program, shelter, or religious center.

10. Advocate

Get involved in your local community. Help agencies in your area whose policy and initiatives support the goal of ending homelessness.

Do you have suggestions of things people can do to help someone in need? We'd love you to list them below.

AUTHOR: Jon Linton - The I Have a Name Project
Jon is the founder of The I Have a Name Project and its Let's Be Better Humans campaign which you can follow on Facebook.
The project is a humble art and advocacy initiative to remind us that we all belong to one human race.