How to Be a Better Philadelphian: Help the Poor

Give a Kid a Toy
Graduates of the People’s Emergency Center’s program to help the homeless have a 90 percent success rate when it comes to staying self-sufficient. Because most of the families that seek shelter at PEC are young, the center is constantly in need of kid stuff: school supplies, toys, summer-camp gear and more. Organize your friends, family or company and hold a holiday toy drive or back-to-school collection. 215-382-7522,

Project H.O.M.E.
In 1989, Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon started a winter emergency shelter. Today, Project H.O.M.E. coordinates street outreach, 418 units of housing, neighborhood revitalization, and three businesses that employ the formerly homeless.

DO: Volunteer at one of PH’s shelters; tutor residents in the Adult Learning Program; buy Project H.O.M.E. merchandise, like holiday cards; visit the Back Home Café for breakfast or lunch.

GIVE: In addition to money, they can use donations of linens, toiletries, cleaning supplies and SEPTA tokens. 215-232-7272,

Back on My Feet
A running group for the homeless? This organization, started by ex-Committee of Seventy staffer Anne Mahlum, uses the sport to boost self-sufficiency, confidence and self-esteem.

DO: Whether you’re a beginner or a marathoner, consider becoming a Lead Runner.

GIVE: $100 provides shoes, socks and running gear for a new member, or you can donate new or nearly new clothes — especially hats and gloves for winter. 267-519-3795,

Covenant House
They’ve provided shelter and support for more than 15,000 homeless, runaway and at-risk youth, sheltering more than 500 young people in the past year.

DO: Assist youth in employment-related tasks (like writing résumés); help sort and wrap holiday gifts; become a “grandmom” and help babysit while residents with children are looking for work.

GIVE: $25 buys 100 diapers for a new mother; $50 covers bus or train fare for job searching and interviews; $100 pays for a night of shelter for one youth. 215-923-8350,

Ready, Willing & Able
Based on the philosophy that “work works,” RWA employs and counsels homeless men, with a 70-bed facility here in Philly.

DO: Volunteer as a mock interviewer to help prepare participants for the job search. Join the “men in blue” on a park cleanup day.

GIVE: $200 pays for one blue RWA work uniform, including warm boots and winter gear. 215-732-3781,

The Career Wardrobe
If you have work garb you’ve hardly put a dent in, this group puts it to good use. Since 1995, the Career Wardrobe has helped more than 45,000 women don professional attire — and go to job interviews with confidence. At the annual fund-raiser, they auction off stylishly local Viv Pickle handbags signed by celebs like Oprah and SJP.

Do: Organize a “Suited Up” or “Finishing Touch” drive to collect suit sets or accessories for women.

Give: The unopened trial-size cosmetics and toiletries amassing in your vanity. Or $150 to help dress two women for the office. 215-568-6693,

Habitat for Humanity
The Philly chapter has built more than 130 homes in the city, plus seven “green” homes currently under way as part of the LEED for Homes pilot program.

DO: Go to the website and sign up to help build.

GIVE: $50 buys a toilet; $250, a window; $2,000, carpeting; $5,000, a new roof. Or pull a real rock-star move (like Bon Jovi did, six times) and sponsor a whole house for $100,000. 215-765-6000,

Homeless Advocacy Project
With the help of more than 300 volunteer lawyers, paralegals and law students, HAP provides free legal aid to some 1,500 homeless individuals and families each year.

DO: If you’re legally inclined, whether you’re a law student or a partner, HAP wants you.

GIVE: $100 guarantees that one homeless person has access to an attorney. 215-523-9595,

Philabundance has worked to end hunger and malnutrition in Philly for more than 20 years, collecting food from local restaurants, supermarkets, caterers, wholesalers and food manufacturers and delivering it to area shelters, emergency kitchens, food cupboards and other social service agencies. Today, it provides meals for 65,000 people a week.

Do: Organize a canned food or penny drive, or donate produce from your home garden.

Give: Twenty-five cents provides enough food for a meal; $100 provides 400 meals. 3616 Galloway Street, 215-339-0900,

Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation
The Flyers chairman launched this outfit in 2005 to give kids a chance to play hockey — and benefit from the lessons the game can teach. Last year it helped more than 1,000 kids.

DO: Volunteer at the “Learn to Play Hockey” sessions at rinks around the region. Even if all you can do is tie skates, they can use your help.

GIVE: A corporate sponsorship helps support the foundation’s work. 215-952-5271,

Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness
PCEH has the ambitious goal of ending homelessness in the city by the year 2010 by finding homes for families. They’ve found 41 homes since 2005.

DO: Attend the annual art auction in the spring, or buy PCEH’s holiday cards—they show pretty paintings of Philly scenes and provide a quarter of PCEH’s funding each year.

GIVE: The day center at PCEH provides showers and clothing to homeless men, and is always in need of men’s clothing, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, disposable razors and other toiletries. 215-232-2300,

Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission
On December 15th, 1878, more than 250 impoverished men listened to Bible readings and sat at the very first Sunday Breakfast—sponsored by trustees John Wanamaker, John B. Stetson (of the Stetson Hat Co.), W. Atlee Burpee (of Burpee Seeds) and ex-governor James Pollock. Today, at its men’s and women’s locations, “Sunday B” continues the tradition, but does it three times a day, seven days a week—in addition to providing overnight shelter and long-term recovery programs.

DO: Donate clothes, furniture and household items to Beehive, the organization’s thrift store at 7136 Rising Sun Avenue.

GIVE: $20 will feed 10 people. 215-922-6400,