The holidays are practically upon us, and that means homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities will fill up even quicker. So what can you do to be prepared for the predictable spike in guests? We have a few ideas to make sure you know how to make the holidays a time of comfort and joy for those under your roof. Here’s how to prepare your homeless shelter for the holidays.
If you run a homeless shelter or rescue mission, you undoubtedly have a desire to help the homeless, and the last thing you want is to turn someone down — especially around the holidays. That's why your first order of business this time of year is to make sure you have as many beds as your facility can safely hold.
The Folding Single Metal Bed is the most popular style for transitional housing facilities, and metal bunk beds are a great way to make the most of the limited space you have. Of course, you'll also need mattresses for those beds. Do your research and decide if vinyl mattresses or nylon mattresses are the better choice for your non-profit transitional housing facility.
The more homeless shelter beds you have, the more blankets you'll need to put on them. Additionally, as the weather gets colder, blankets are even more necessary. Stock up on fleece blankets for your homeless shelter. At the rate people come and go through homeless shelters during the holidays, you likely won’t have any leftovers.
Although we all cringe at the thought of having to turn someone away on a bleak winter night, it's always a possibility, especially during the holidays. The least you can do is send them away with a couple of fleece blankets.
Hopefully by now, you've already planned some type of Thanksgiving dinner or meal kits for your guests, and you're thinking about what types of meals and events you can do in December.
Don’t forget to call on volunteers to help you with these events. While everyone’s schedule can get a bit more hectic, many are actually looking for ways to volunteer and make a difference.
It's important to be organized as you assemble your team of volunteers as well as make expectations clear. Plan how long each volunteer shift along with a description of tasks involved. People are more likely to volunteer their time if they know what they're doing and how long they're doing it.
We recommend making each volunteer shift at least three hours. Any shorter, and you'll spend the majority of your time meeting new volunteers and explaining their role to them. In addition, you may end up with a more dedicated group if your volunteers have committed to working a half-day or even an entire day.
For example, if you solicit the help of those willing to squeeze only one hour of volunteer activities into their schedules, you may find yourself working with volunteers who are less focused on helping and more focused on checking it off as an item on their to-do list (as opposed to a “want” to-do list). That being said, you may be reluctant to turn away any sort of help, and that’s understandable.
If your homeless shelter or rescue mission lacks the space necessary to invite guests and volunteers in for a sit-down meal, consider offering a to-go option. This way, you can still provide a nourishing meal without making your setting uncomfortable or unsafe by overcrowding it. Many times, guests actually prefer a meal that is packaged to-go because they can take food back to their families.
As a non-profit organization, fundraising and donations are your bread and butter. People are especially generous around the holidays, and many businesses are looking to partner with an admirable cause.
That means the holidays are the best time to make others aware of your non-profit organization's vision and needs. As you raise funds for your cause, make sure people are completely clear on two things:
- What to donate
- How to donate (And make it easy!)
We all can grow tired of making decisions around the holidays — what to put in your dad's stocking, where to put the Christmas tree, what to bake for your friend's cookie swap. Take away some of the decision-making portions of donating, and you'll likely get better results from your donors.
Are you prepared?
So where do you fall on the holiday preparation scale? If you need some help in the bedding department, American Bedding is here to help! Contact us online or call us at (800) 203-2507. We'd love to help you get your homeless shelter ready for the busy holiday season and beyond. Want to see more of our mattress and metal bed options? Click on the banner below to download a catalog!