Many people think of homeless people as dirty. They imagine them walking around with shopping carts filled to the brim with things that they have collected from trash cans. While, yes, there are some homeless people who fit this description, this is a generalization that doesn’t fit every homeless person. Every person who is currently living on the streets has a different story of how they got there. You will never know their past unless you take the time to talk to them. Some people panhandling on the corner could have spent time serving our country abroad or could have been kicked out by their family with no other option. You just never know.

It’s important to realize that homeless people are human beings just like you and me. They have a story. They need and deserve our help.

Thankfully, throughout New York City there are many charities and organizations that are there to help the homeless population. From food banks to shelters and everything in between. But it’s not enough. There are still people freezing to death during the cold winter months living on the street.

Unfortunately, while there are resources available for homeless people, they just don’t cut it. Bureaucracy makes it difficult for those who need help to get it immediately. There are always lines to wait on and paperwork to be filled. Shelters don’t have the capacity to help everyone who needs it. Homeless people have to be resourceful when trying to find a warm place to sleep. They might sleep in the tunnels below the city or sneak into a building and try not to get caught.

The day to day life of trying to get the resources that they need, the ones that we take for granted, is difficult. Homeless people don’t necessarily know where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep that night. Imagine waking up in a different place every day, with no money in your pocket for food. How would you go about handling that?

It’s our responsibility to help these homeless people out. Find a local charity and donate money or time. Do whatever you can because if the situation was reversed you would want others to help you, wouldn’t you?