Top ways to help the homeless during the brutally cold winter months.
A homeless man sleeps amongst cardboards inside a bus stop in Paris, France,on Dec. 15, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

With weather reports citing below freezing temperatures, damaging winds and snowfall all across the U.S., many Americans may choose to stay in the warm comforts of their own homes over the weekend. However, there are hundreds of thousands of people living in the states that will not have the luxury of warming up to a cozy lit fire with family members during the winter months.

While there are no exact figures for the number of homeless people living in the U.S., a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated about 500,000 people living in the states were homeless, many of whom will have to brace the cold winter months with limited resources.

As Christmas day approaches, helping homeless people stay warm is a great way to spread some holiday cheer and give back to the community. Check out a list of a few ways to help the homeless survive the Polar Vortex and the entire winter season below.

Give warm clothes and blankets: One of the easiest ways to help a homeless person during the winter months is by donating clothes, shoes and blankets to people sleeping on the streets. Most homeless people do not have access to clean hats, scarves, gloves and mittens, so donating winter gear to those in need could go a long way. In Washington D.C., community groups like Thrive DC will even take surplus clothing and blanket donations, after which they’ll hand out items to the people that need them most. In Washington state, a volunteer group named Sleepless in Seattle hands out sleeping bags to people living on the streets and even hosts an annual drive during which people can donate sleeping bags, blankets and pillows that the group later offers to the homeless.

Call the Hypothermia Hotline: There are plenty of places all over the country that provide homeless people with food and shelter all year round, yet there are still hundreds of homeless people who don’t actually know where to go or they have no way of getting there. However, something as simple as calling a hypothermia hotline and reporting sightings of homeless people in need of shelter could potentially result in someone not only having a warm place to sleep at night but a ride to the shelter too. Dial 211 to be directed to a hypothermia hotline.

Volunteer: Spend some time helping homeless people get access to hot meals by volunteering at a soup kitchen. Soup Soul Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in New York City feeds over 1,000 homeless and hungry people daily and the organization is always in need of more helpers. However, even cooking up a can of soup and giving it to someone in need in a heated thermos can be a very helpful way to warm up a homeless person during the winter months.