Jeanne Blum is executive director of the White Plains-based Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless, Inc., as well as co-chair of the Westchester Homelessness Prevention Network. Blum, who calls Croton-on-Hudson home, shares the top five in-demand items to donate to your local shelter, goods drive, or charitable organization.
|1) Allergen-free foods “It’s important for food pantries and soup kitchens to be able to accommodate a client with special needs, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. Gluten-free pastas and cereals, low-salt and low-sugar products, as well as soy and rice milk are all helpful.”
|2) Computers “These machines are gateways to many important aspects of our communities. Even just having a few of them in a shelter, so that the clients may be taught how to use one and its programs, allowing them to follow up on required communication, which can help dramatically increase clients’ chances of landing a job.”
|3) Dress clothes “Collared shirts, slacks, skirts, blazers, and sport coats are all important articles of clothing clients need to have available to them when they have housing interviews or are going on a job interview. Having the right attire for an interview helps raise their self-esteem and confidence, and could help them get one step closer to living on their own again.”
|4) Diapers/baby items “This is extremely vital, as food stamps will not allow the purchase of diapers, and a mother cannot put her child into daycare without an adequate supply of disposable (not cloth) diapers. And if she cannot put her child into daycare, she cannot work. No mother should have to choose between buying food or medicine over diapers for her baby.”
|5) Supermarket gift cards “Supermarket gift cards can be used by shelters, kitchens, and pantries to purchase food to cook for clients or to give to clients for items that are not readily available through our local food bank, such as breakfast cereals, toilet tissue, and fresh produce.”