We reached out to organizations in Grand Rapids that provide shelter and other important services to homeless individuals and families. We asked the organizations what their biggest needs are and what's on their Christmas donation wish list this year.

Christmas is a time for giving. It is even better when your gift has a big impact on someone who needs help. Many shelters and organizations in Grand Rapids provide that opportunity. A chance to maximize your giving by providing an item that it truly needed by someone who is homeless or in need of support.

You'll find a few common items as you look through the wish lists of the organizations below. If you plan to give to a group not mentioned here, those items might be a good place to start.

  • Their most immediate needs are winter items including hats, gloves, scarves, coats, blankets and hand warmers.
  • They need twin-sized sheets and twin-sized blankets. They also need food including cereal, canned pasta, tuna, canned chicken, canned fruit, hamburger helper, mac & cheese, juice and soups.
  • Needs winter items including hats, scarves, waterproof gloves, coats, boots, warm socks and thermal underwear.
  • Backpacks: those who visit often have a limited amount of personal belongings. Guiding Light tries to set a standard of dignity by even each person an actual bag as opposed to a plastic bag or grocery bag to carry their possessions in.
  • Coffee donations are always appreciated. They serve free coffee during the winter and go through nearly five pounds per day.
  • They are looking for the basic items: underwear, socks, bed sheets, towel sets, utensils, pots, pans, and boys clothing.
  • Winter apparel is a necessity. Especially winter boots for men and snow pants for kids.
  • They are also hoping for anything to help make it a better Christmas for families who are really struggling to make ends meet.
  • Needs towels, wash cloths, twin-size sheets, twin-size cotton blankets, wool socks (men/women/children) and gloves (men/women/children).

  • Air mattresses (all sizes). These are used when clients exit the shelter and enter new housing. They often don't have beds available to them.
  • Gas cards to help clients get back and forth for job interviews and appointments.
  • They are low on some basics including toilet paper, paper towels, laundry pods, dish soap, clorox wipes and cleaning supplies.
  • White bath towels.
  • Pillows.

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