For a Houston Without Homelessness

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Volunteering & In-Kind Needs

In-Kind Needs

SEARCH staff members’ deliberate conversations with clients highlight several specific, urgent needs.  We are so grateful to you, our amazing support network, for helping us get these essential items into clients’ hands.  Thank you!

Outreach Amazon wish list:  SEARCH’s Outreach Team supports clients’ access to food, water, and seasonal necessities while also engaging in targeted rapport building and longer-term service connection efforts.

Housing Amazon wish list: Clients in SEARCH’s supportive housing programs consistently report an urgent need for toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies (all-purpose cleaner, dish soap, laundry detergent, bleach, and disinfectant wipes).

You can also check out our Amazon wish list for SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures.  Additionally, please consider supporting SEARCH via AmazonSmile!  If you’re a Chrome user, you can install this extension so you don’t have to worry about remembering to start at your Smile page.  It will automatically load it for you anytime you use Amazon.

Drop Off Instructions.  If you are able to provide any of these items and would prefer to drop off at SEARCH directly, please reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Molly Connor at mconnor@searchhomeless.org to make arrangements for a drop off time.  Appointments are typically available between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm Tuesday-Friday.  Thank you so much for helping us serve our clients and community safely.


Wish List

Click here for a list of our most needed items
  • Hurricane preparedness supplies – SEARCH is especially in need of storm radios, rain ponchos, and flashlights with batteries as we prepare folks on the street and in Housing for summer hurricane season and erratic winter weather.
  • Cleaning supplies – Case managers in our Scattered Site Housing and Rapid Rehousing programs are finding that their newly housed clients most often fail Department of Housing and Urban Development inspections and risk eviction due to dirty ovens and would love it if they could provide clients with oven cleaner such as Easy-Off.  They’d also welcome other cleaning supplies like all-purpose cleaner, liquid and pods detergent, sponges, dish soap, bleach, and disinfecting wipes.  These gifts support SEARCH clients’ housing stability and acquisition of new life skills as they transition to life off the streets.
  • Bottled water
  • Full-sized (please no travel-sized) hygiene/toiletry products

Other In-Kind Needs

Click here for a list other items needed

Based on our current storage capacity and client need, SEARCH can often accept other in-kind donations such as clothing (especially men’s clothing and plus-size clothing), shoes, blankets/bedding, full-sized hygiene products, small household appliances, and decorative housewarming items.  Please reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Molly Connor at mconnor@searchhomeless.org to discuss any related inquiries.  SEARCH is NOT able to accept the items listed below at this time.  We truly appreciate our community’s generosity that has allowed us to keep many items in ample supply!

  • Sandwiches/sack lunches.  Our Outreach Team has transitioned to providing our clients with more non-perishable items over the last several years.
  • Dental care supplies (toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss)
  • Travel-sized/hotel hygiene products
  • Furniture
  • Toys (outside of holiday- and birthday-specific projects)
  • To-go containers/silverware

Volunteering with SEARCH

When you volunteer at SEARCH, the gift of your time changes our clients’ lives as well as your own. SEARCH typically has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available.  Please note that most volunteer activities take place during regular business hours, Monday – Friday.  Please also note that we usually cannot accommodate volunteer groups larger than 12-15 people and volunteers under the age of 12 onsite at SEARCH facilities.  Finally, please note that we have suspended most onsite volunteer operations for the time being in light of COVID-19.  We appreciate your understanding and encourage you to consider the remote opportunities described below.  Feel free to reach out to Volunteer Coordinator Molly Connor to troubleshoot and learn of any available special projects or events onsite!  Thank you.


Remote Volunteer Opportunities

Back-to-School Sponsor

Volunteer role: Volunteers are matched with a SEARCH client and assemble a backpack containing school supplies appropriate to the student’s grade level.  SEARCH serves students from pre-K to college!  Backpack purchase and assembly generally costs $75-$100 per student.

Number of volunteers: 50 or more

Time: SEARCH recruits sponsors in June and July.  Backpack drop-off occurs from late July to mid-August.  Drop-off is open Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave. 

Holiday Wish List Sponsor

Volunteer role: Volunteers are matched with a SEARCH client and his or her holiday wish list of three items.  As our neighbors often struggle to meet their daily needs, volunteers who purchase wish list items play a crucial part in making holiday cheer available to all!  We have found that groups often enjoy shopping for wish list items together and coming together for “wrapping parties!”  

Number of volunteers: 50 or more

Time: SEARCH recruits sponsors in October.  Wish list item drop-off occurs throughout November and in early December.  Drop-off is open Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave. or SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures located at 2323 Francis St.  SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator will specify a location! 

Warm Weather Kit Preparer

SEARCH’s Outreach Team would sincerely appreciate it if supporters like you could prepare sandwich- or quart-sized Ziploc-style bags including the following items to help address summer health, hygiene, and weather concerns.

  • One or two laundry detergent pods in snack-sized plastic bags (in case of leaks)
  • Travel- or full-sized deodorant
  • Pair of socks
  • Rain poncho
  • Pack of insect repellant (example here)
  • Pack of sunscreen (example here)
  • Travel pack of tissues
  • 8-oz water bottle
  • Optional encouraging note:  Any paper like construction, notebook, index card, etc. works great for this, and writing the notes is often a nice way to involve children in the project.  We ask that your words of affirmation avoid religious references and sharing personal details such as your last name or contact information.  Thank you!
Cold Weather Kit Preparer

During the winter months, SEARCH’s Outreach Team is in need of cold weather kits containing the following items packaged in an affordable drawstring bag.

  • Emergency blanket
  • Socks (fun pairs welcome!)
  • Winter hat
  • Long john pants (size L if available)
  • Basic wind breaker (size L if available)
  • Optional encouraging note:  Any paper like construction, notebook, index card, etc. works great for this, and writing the notes is often a nice way to involve children in the project.  We ask that your words of affirmation avoid religious references and sharing personal details such as your last name or contact information.  Thank you!
 
In-Kind Drive Sponsor

Volunteer role:  SEARCH clients consistently report certain needs that volunteers can help us meet by organizing in-kind donation drives at their schools, workplaces, extracurricular groups, places of worship, etc.  Client needs vary depending on the kinds of services they are receiving from SEARCH.  Volunteers are invited to collect any and all of the following items.  We also invite volunteers to reach out to us if they’d consider representing us as a “Next Door Neighbor,” receiving emails from SEARCH staff about specific in-kind needs for particular individuals and families.  Thank you for considering a donation to SEARCH!

SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures In-Kind Drive:

  • Diapers (sizes 5 – 6)
  • Diaper genie refill bags
  • Size 2T-6T underwear
  • Size 2T-6T bottoms
  • Baby wipes
  • Swim diapers (sizes 5 – 6)
  • Laundry detergent (baby-friendly)

Essential Items In-Kind Drive:

  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Laundry detergent (liquid or Pods)
  • Full-sized deodorant/antiperspirant
  • Adult socks
  • Backpacks/drawstring bags
  • Menstrual products, especially pads
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Paper towels
  • First aid kits
  • Instant coffee
  • Bottled water

Number of volunteers: Open.  This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location:Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave. or SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures located at 2323 Francis St.  SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator will specify a location!

Fundraising Event Host

Volunteer role: Host a fundraiser benefiting SEARCH and/or HTT. Suggestions include but are not limited to bake sales; golf tournaments; softball games; donation-based yoga classes; movie nights; and charitable gift registries for celebrations like weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs.  SEARCH also encourages our network to raise awareness and funds through Facebook fundraisers.  Additionally, we can help interested supporters setup text-to-give campaigns.  Please contact Chelsea Wade to learn more.

Number of volunteers: Open

Time: As scheduled

Location: Open.  SEARCH staff would love to attend your event if possible, and please let us know how we can assist with organization!

Keychain Maker

Volunteer role: Newly housed clients need a place for the keys to their new apartments!  We welcome volunteer help creating simple keychains that SEARCH can include in the “Welcome Home” gifts clients receive.  Ideas for key chains include this and this.  However, you are free to make the keychains as elaborate as you would like.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Tote/Grocery Bag Provider

Volunteer role: SEARCH is always looking for tote bags for clients shopping in our food pantry and for our Outreach Team to use for distributing basic necessities on the streets.  We invite volunteers to decorate affordable totes (example here) or even simple, sturdier paper grocery sacks using fabric markers, paint, embroidery, etc. and to include encouraging notes in those bags. As with all encouraging notes for SEARCH clients, we ask that notes not include dates, contact information, last names, or religious information such as references to deities. 

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Pottery Painter

Volunteer role: Volunteers can purchase and paint mugs to donate to newly housed SEARCH clients.  We say mugs because most of our clients love coffee!  We do ask that mugs get a coating of Krylon Crystal Clear or Modge Podge sealer so clients can wash them.  Most dollar stores sell mugs for $1 per unit.  Encouraging messages like “Welcome Home” make a great decoration!

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Tablecloth Creator

Volunteer role: At HTT, the students eat breakfast and lunch daily using reusable tablecloths, plates, and cutlery.  We run through tablecloths fairly quickly and would love it if you would like to create some.  Any durable and washable fabric (e.g. cotton) works well, and you can cut the fabric to size and decorate the tablecloths with fabric paint, fabric markers, etc.  We have 36” round tables and 30” x 44” rectangular tables.  The rectangular tables use approximately 1.5 yards of fabric which can be purchased from Walmart for $6 or less.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures located at 2323 Francis St.  

Hurricane Kit Assembler

Volunteer role: During hurricane season from June to November, people living on the streets face an elevated risk of displacement and unsafe conditions.  We’d really appreciate your help assembling “hurricane kits” to enhance their disaster preparedness.  For this project, we recommend that volunteers place the following items in a plastic container or large Ziploc:

  • Bottled water
  • Rain poncho
  • Flashlights plus compatible batteries (no candles, please!)
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Hand-cranked radios
  • Backup lighting batteries
  • Ziploc plastic bags for important documents
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!  We usually need ~300 kits per hurricane season.

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Pantry Kit Assembler

Volunteer role: Food pantries typically do not carry items like cooking oils, flour, sugar, essential spices, and basic condiments.  We invite volunteers to package these items in reusable totes or storage containers for SEARCH case managers to distribute to individuals and families upon move in.  Please feel free to include encouraging notes!  Please don’t include dates, contact information, last names, religious references, or seasonal information such as references to holidays.

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!  We usually need 10-15 kits per month.

Time: Item drop-off is Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.

Holiday Stocking Assembler

Volunteer role: Host a holiday stocking drive with your family, friends, or community to benefit SEARCH clients. These gifts will bring joy and help to meet some basic needs during the holiday season. 

We recommend that volunteers stuff stockings with a $10 gift card to a grocery store like Kroger, Fiesta, or Walmart or to a dollar store.  Additional items volunteers may want to add to stockings include socks, gloves, hats, scarves, encouraging books, and pre-packaged holiday treats (no homemade, please).

Number of volunteers: Open. This opportunity often works well for larger groups!

Time: Early November through early December.  Drop-off is open Tuesday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Please schedule with SEARCH’s Volunteer Coordinator.

Location: Drop-off at SEARCH’s main building located at 2015 Congress Ave.


For more information about volunteering with SEARCH, please contact Molly Connor at mconnor@searchhomeless.org or 713-276-3063.

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