Each year, a new team of Christ in the City missionaries gathers in Denver for efforts such as homeless outreach. About 25 young missionaries volunteer for two years, receiving spiritual and academic formation in their time of service.
The group says one missionary alone reaches 500 homeless and engages 80-100 volunteers to engage in more than 62,000 hours of service for the homeless.
The group advises people to give more practical items in lieu of money, like socks, water, Gatorade, or gloves. Those who give food should keep in mind that people who live on the street often have teeth problems and can't eat hard granola bars or apples. Soft foods like bananas or soft-baked granola bars are more edible.
"Giving money is a personal decision that requires discernment. Gift cards can be a better alternative to cash," Christ in the City said. Items showing personal care are more likely to keep a focus on friendship.
"Your love and compassion is more effective than five bucks," the group added.
The group's final piece of advice?
"Offer to pray for them, and mean it," Christ in the City said. "We try to be another Christ to our friends on the street, but we accept that we can only do so much. The rest we leave up to God in prayer. He loves our friends more than we ever could."
The organization has had requests to expand into five other dioceses.
An earlier version of this article ran on CNA Sept. 23, 2016.