It’s the holiday season, and as we get ready to settle in with our friends and family in our cozy homes, there are many here in Acadiana that will be relying on local shelters to provide warmth, comfort and food. We all know that shelters can always use food, clothing, supplies and food donations, but what, exactly, do they need?

I remember interviewing Sarah Clement, Director of Catholic Services of Acadiana, about the wonderful successes they’ve had in ending veteran homelessness in Acadiana (read the story: the results are incredible!), so I asked her what their shelters need that they haven't thought about specifically asking for.

Sarah told me that they are always asking for things to help support their shelters, but sometimes she forgets to be specific.

When we have the opportunity to ask for items on a platform other than our Facebook page and newsletter, we usually keep it generic and ask for supplies, financial and food donations, so to be able to provide a list of specific items will help tremendously! - Sarah Clement, Catholic Services of Acadiana


(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Clement went on to give me a few specific items needed, along with an explanation for each:

  1. New Socks - people that utilize our services (washing their clothes or taking a shower) at our hygiene faculty, Stella Maris Center, are living on the street, in cars or other places not meant for human habitation. Especially during winter months people experiencing homelessness go through socks quickly, mainly because they don’t have pairs they can rotate through and they do a tremendous amount of walking.
  2. New underwear and white under shirts - Similar to socks, these items wear away quickly and need to be replaced often.
  3. Scrubs - Often at Stella Maris Center the only clothing people own are the clothes they came in with. Part of this is because they also don’t have anywhere to store extra clothing items. In order to help maintain the clothing they have, our staff give them scrubs to wear after they shower while they wash their clothes at the facility.
  4. Pillows & Bedding - these items can be used in the CSA shelter programs (like St. Joseph Shelter for Men, St. Michael Center for Veterans and New Life Center for Women and Children) but also given to individuals and families when they move into permanent housing.
  5. Hand Warmers (the kind that people take hunting) - When it gets cold outside, we like to give these out when available so that people can stay a little bit warmer if they do not have a home.
Catholic Services of Acadiana
Catholic Services of Acadiana

As far as food items go, Clement included this explanation:

Because we serve 300 - 400 meals every day of the week, you can imagine the amount of food we go through. Through a partnership with Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center’s program, St. Bernadette Clinic, a nutritionist plans a menu each week and a skilled cook prepares them along with the help of our community volunteers. These menus are part of a preventative health care initiative to manage certain ailments through diet, such as hypertension and diabetes. Sometimes we receive the necessary items to cook these meals but, frequently, we do have to purchase items we do not receive.

The most-used items? Here's a list:

  1. Eggs/Liquid Eggs
  2. Cooking Oil - olive oil
  3. Fresh and frozen vegetables
  4. Chicken
  5. Ground Turkey
  6. Whole Wheat Pasta

Of course, there are many other items on the list, but these are the basics that they use each and every day.

You don't have to wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to donate items; all of these items can be received by the shelters and kitchens at any time, as all of these items are needed all of the time. (Okay, in July they don't need the hand warmers, but they do have a storage area, and most items will keep until needed!)

While we are out shopping at our local merchants, try to remember to pick up a few extra items from the lists above. Drop them off at Catholic Services of Acadiana, or any shelter/kitchen of your choice.

When you donate to the shelters, you'll not only be making today better for the homeless and hungry people in Acadiana, you'll be making their tomorrow better, too.

If you'd like to call Catholic Services of Acadiana to get more information, the number is 337.235.4972.


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