LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – You could be doing more harm than good helping those in need during the winter months.
The Hope Center says Lexington is a compassionate community and wants to help the homeless, but sometimes that assistance can be counter-productive.
The Hope Center points to the example of giving money directly to people who are homeless, saying hat money might then be used to buy drugs or alcohol and prevent them from seeking shelter during dangerously cold weather.
Instead, the Hope Center has these tips on how to help:
• If you see someone you believe to be homeless during dangerously cold temperatures, call the Hope Center Emergency Shelter at 252-7881. The Hope Center has a Street Outreach Program, which will work with people who refuse to take shelter. Or 2-2-1 will give access to additional resources.
• If the person looks like they need medical attention, call 911 immediately and let them know. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness and confusion. Hypothermia kills about 700 homeless each year.
• If you want to give a hand out, give the homeless a small bag filled with a pair of socks, granola bar, lip balm, water, gloves, tissues, toothpaste and toothbrush, all with this card giving information to the homeless person and tell them you can call someone to assist them (Hope Center Street Outreach at 859-252-7881). You can either print the card: http://www.hopectr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Lex_Panhandling_Postcard_20180202.jpg, or stop by the Hope Center’s Emergency Shelter, which has 1,000 cards printed.
• Hold a toiletry, socks and underwear or over-the-counter, alcohol-free medicine drive and collect for the Emergency Shelter as these are the items most in need during a cold snap. Emergency shelter numbers have increased from around 200 to more than 250, which means more toiletries are needed as well.
• Make sandwiches for the HopeMobile, which is out on the streets Monday through Friday as a resource for those who will not take shelter. Or donate hats, gloves and scarves and blankets to homeless shelters.
• Text LEXHOPE to 50155 to donate. Those donations go to housing, food, social services and health-care – programs that don’t just meet the immediate needs but also address the underlying causes of homelessness. In addition, the Hope Center has a street outreach coordinator, who works to get resources to those who refuse to enter the shelter.
For more information on how to volunteer or donate, call 859-225-4673 or visit to www.hopectr.org.