How You Can Boost Winter Shelters

By United Way of King County, on December 6, 2016 | In Fighting Homelessness

Homelessness is hard to miss in the Seattle/Puget Sound region. And every winter our homelessness crisis persists is another winter we need your help. You can do a handful of small things to make a big difference for winter shelters and the people who need them.

What’s a winter shelter? Just that—a shelter open late fall to early spring, usually just overnight. For example, the Eastside Winter Shelter is open 7:30 p.m.–7:30 a.m. now until April 2017.

The bummer side of winter shelters? They have expiration dates. The date depends on a) the weather, and b) how much funding the shelter receives from its parent organization and other sources.

Should I help, even though the shelter’s going to be gone in a few months? Yes. Yes again. Because of the people who need them. People for whom winter shelters play a key role in surviving the freezing temperatures and constant rain of our Northwest winters.

Step 1: Choose Your Giving Style

For the gourmets: Already making a giant lasagna for dinner? Make an extra! Sign up to bring a meal to an Eastside shelter.

For the shoppers: Adding a few things to your usual grocery trip is an insanely easy way to support shelters and shelter-goers. The main essentials most shelters need:

  • TP and paper towels
  • 409 and disinfectant wipes
  • Large trash bags
  • First aid kits
  • Cereal and disposable bowls
  • Hot beverage cups
  • Socks, socks, socks

For the purgers: Move aside, spring cleaning. Winter is here. Old (working) lamps your mother-in-law “gifted” to you? Drawers full of forgotten hats and gloves—and closets stuffed with blankets and coats? Overdo it on the scarf-buying this year? All perfect things for winter shelters and their guests.

For the Amazonians: Many nonprofits have Amazon wish lists, and you can choose to ship the items directly to them. Find a list or registry. Pro tip: check for dates to make sure the list is current.

Step 2: Find Your Nearest Shelter

Here’s 2-1-1’s list of winter shelters in western Washington. Or search “winter shelter” or “emergency shelter” and your city to find one nearest you.

Against homelessness. For shelter and stability. That’s what we are at United Way. And we’re grateful for your giving heart!


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