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Keep homelessness in mind

Homelessness comes with additional risks this time of year as the weather becomes colder.

Though there are area nonprofits who use time and resources to help those struggling financially, who may not have food or other necessities, building short-term and long-term shelters where people can stay overnight or for longer periods of time is still a challenge in the Heart of Virginia.

Sleeping under bridges and in the woods can often be what’s resorted to, but freezing, contracting infections or potential harassment from others are constant threats by people who have to make those decisions. Sleeping in an area hotel or motel can cause upward of $90 a night, and most people who are homeless don’t often have the money to pay for a motel one night, much less on a regular basis.

Homelessness is experienced by people and animals alike. Stray or lost animals who don’t have a home or shelter may be faced with few options as nights get chillier.

We don’t often know the stories of people who hold signs on the side of the road. We at The Herald encourage community members in the Heart of Virginia to take action. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching someone who may be homeless, it could be beneficial to contact a representative of a nonprofit in the area to receive suggestions from them. If you believe the person may be in danger, contacting your area police department or sheriff’s office may be a resource.

For lost animals, calling one’s area animal control office or animal shelter may help.

Lastly, donating to organizations such as the area SPCA or nonprofits providing care could be immeasurably meaningful to both the organization and the people it seeks to help.

It’s an important time of year to keep homeless neighbors and animals in mind and to take action when we see it in the community.