When to offer aid to the unprepared

Not everyone has prepping as a hobby or a way of life. Not many have gone through a major disaster or trial in their lifetime that would encourage them to be prepared. But those disasters do happen, and if it does, what is your thought process behind offering aid, help, and assistance to others?

It will greatly depend on the situation, where your preps are at the time, and many other contributing factors, but lets have a discussion of some possible scenarios.

Here are some arguments for giving aid: I believe that most people would like to offer assistance to others and help when they can. This can help grow and strengthen your prepping community and many hands makes light work.

Here are some arguments against giving aid: Your house gets to be known as the new hand-out place. Once you give help to one person, they tell others and you have many people on your doorstep. You become a target because you have supplies and resources when others do not.

Another user on here, Matt Black, made a really great forum post about making Mercy Bags for the unprepared. I think this is a great idea and my family is going to make some to help out others.


  • Comments (10)

    • 5

      I do believe in offering aid to the unprepared but the timing of that is the tricky part.  In my case, I will not offer aid unless we are in a major, SHTF crisis… not before.  And I will wait a week or more before doing so.

      I live on a 20 acre homestead on a rural, dead end lane, about a mile off a county hwy headed to nowhere.  There are around 10 famlies on our lane, with two of them being farmers with nice sized cattle herds.  If a crisis were to hit, first thing I would do is make contact with the two farmers and work out an arrangement where I can offer them stored food and help guarding their herds.  They of course have cows in return.   BTW, we are good friends.  Then, after a week or two, once we know which neighbors are still around, I would suggest adding the other famlies on the lane to the group.  I’m sure they would have less to offer but I know three of those famlies work in the healthcare industry… two nurses and a dentist.

      I know many preppers fear hordes of city folk attacking, and I too see that as a threat… depending on how far out you are.  I do believe the suburbs will very quickly set up barriers to stop the influx of people escaping the city.  But, IMO a prepper’s greatest threat is from hungry neighbors.  You think they are gonna starve quietly while you eat?  You can’t shoot them, maybe as you would some horde.  They have a right to be out & about, which makes them a constant threat.

      So thru the years, I’ve stocked large amounts of food.  I also stock huge amounts of garden seed.  Matter of fact, just today I put up a 6 gallon pail full of the three sisters… corn seed, pole bean seed & winter squash seed.  I also added collard seeds and I have hundreds of thousands of amaranth seed in storage.  I’m at the point that even if a crisis were to hit at the worst time, the end of the growing season, that all on our lane could survive until crops were planted the next year.  

      I just don’t believe in forming a group before a crisis.  I find many people just too unreliable and once you tell people what you have, it will spread.  Then other people will invite themselves and at that point, you are screwed.  So I keep quiet and hope & pray I never need to use my stores.  But they are there when needed and will be used to offer aid to others.

    • 4

      Something I have been wanting to do is to create my own little prepping community. Find like minded individuals who will gather together and help each other out if a disaster was to hit. That is one of the reasons I got into ham radio, to meet other preppers who I could talk to about this kind of stuff. 

      Family is a natural default prepping community for many. You care for and love them and want them all to survive. You probably would be more willing to help out your sister’s family than a random stranger. 

      By creating a prepping community or network, you can pool resources, share skills, and have strength in numbers.

      • 4

        I’ve never figured out how to create a prepping community, without losing the aspect that I feel is crucial to surviving a crisis… stealth.  IMO, it is just too dangerous to let others know you prepare & that you have food & whatever for an emergency.  These others might stay quiet during good times, but during a crisis, surely they will tell others, such as their friends & family… who will tell their friends & family & so on.

        Another aspect of groups is that 90% of the work is normally done by 10% of the people.  Check out how most churches operate & you will know what I mean.  Then, what comes of members who drop out or are removed from the group?  They know who you are & what you have.  What if, during the crisis, they group with other desperate folks to come take from you?

        I most certainly agree the best way to survive a crisis is by forming small communities.  I just don’t know how to safely do so prior to the crisis.

    • 3

      I’m really on the fence with this.  I consider myself a relatively virtuous and compassionate person, but in a SHTF situation, my family is going to be my only concern.   I don’t worry about gangs of marauders, it’s the friendly neighbors in my community.  Hunger and especially their children’s hunger will create dangerous and desperate people who will do anything to get your food/supplies.  If you give them a care-package, you can expect them to return to take what they want.

      I’ve been preppng for years.  I don’t have a lot of money, but bought over the years: food, supplies, meds, books, canning equipment, lots of propane, seeds, and guns to protect it.  I’ve tried to get others involved (without giving too much information), but there’s been no interest. There are so many benefits of having a group, but it’s really difficult to establish until things get really bad and then it’s going to be too late.

      Over the years, I’ve warned and advised many friends to start prepping. If they refuse (and all have) to take precautions, it’s on them and I owe them nothing.  I’m sorry if this makes me sound bad, but there’s lots of wisdom in the Ant and Grasshopper fable.

      • 2

        @ Carter: *hat tip* Thanks for the mention. 🤠

        @ Winston: I totally get it. It really is one of those iffy things. And you make some interesting points, especially the bit about suddenly being known as the “hand out” place. I view my prepping as a series of potential opportunities, each with their own outcomes. 

        @ ALL: Here are a few additional things to consider:

        • – a mercy bag truly is an act of mercy
        • – a mercy bag doesn’t have to be given face-to-face. anonymity is always an option!
        • – a mercy bag has the potential to lead to alliances that might not otherwise happen, even if for a moment
        • – a mercy bag (failing all else), could be used as a distration to make a quick getaway

        @ Redneck: You and I are a lot alike in our thinking. I have a very strong preference for unobtrusivness. Being a part of a community is something that takes time and a lot of trust, which (time) is a luxury we might not have right now -but who knows.

        Trust permeates every aspect of everyday life. Think about it. When I’m driving down the highway, I’m trusting that the person driving in the other direction isn’t going to intentionally steer themselves into a head-on. When I see the signal to cross the street, I look both ways, but I still trust that I won’t get intentionally run over. I put an ATM card into the atm machine because you trust that you’ll get it back. At the range, I trust that someone isn’t going to go on a shooting spree. I trust that, when I board a plane, it won’t just fall out of the sky (or that the pilot isn’t blitzed out of their skull). The list goes on.

        Society runs on trust.

        The question is, in SHTF situation, what happens to trust? Does it disappear completely? Who can say?

        What trust you might have in a prepper community needs to be as-solid or better because (as you mentioned) you can’t afford to have that trust abused or misused in times of need.

        So, in that regard, your best prep is to guard against such abuses of trust.

    • 3

      Good topic. I’ve been mulling over this same issue but have yet to come to a decent conclusion on what to do and when.

      We live on a homestead/small farm so it is very obvious that we have potential food sources. However, few people really appreciate just how little food a small hobby farm makes. I think people are so used to confined animal operations cranking out massive quantities of food, we don’t realize that a small flock of chickens, a couple pigs, and a summer garden can’t fully feed a single family year round, never mind extended family, friends, or neighbors in need.
      I want to be able to help others but the reality is the size of our operation is simply not large enough to do much more than support my own family at best. I did the math and there are about 10 close family/friend groups that I would want to help and there is no way I can even provide meaningful ongoing support to one other family, let alone all of them 🙁

      • 2

        I’d suggest storing more seed than you would need for your own family.  If you can’t assist these extra people with food then maybe helping them get started with growing their own food would help.  The discussion about growing amaranth is an example in how a tremendous amount of food can be grown very cheaply & very easily.  You can get over a half million amaranth seed for around $50.

        Then, if possible maybe you can slowly add to your food storage.  Over a few years time you will see that you could then offer food as well as seed.  That is what I did on my homestead.  I can remember clearly as I added additional food to my stores saying, “That is one more person I can feed”.

      • 3

        I love the idea of providing seeds for others! It seems much more manageable than somehow finding a way to provide everyone with eggs and chicken. How does amaranth do in cold zones (4-5)? Even if it doesn’t tolerate cold well, due to its aggressive growth, I could still experiment next year and just see how it does up here June-Sept.

      • 3

        Here is another aspect of providing garden seed.  Since garden seed has a much shorter shelf life than most stored food (ie rice & beans in mylar), one needs to constantly add new seed to their stores.  I add at least a 6 gallon pail worth each year.  That means your seed that is 5 years old is getting where it will not be as viable.  Not worthless but not as good a germination rate.  Well this older seed would be good to hand out to others in need.

        I think that area would be too cool to expect a great seed crop but surely you have a long enough warm spell for the plants to grow & provide leaves for you.  Many folks grow amaranth just for micro greens where the harvest when just a few inches tall.

        amaranth-microgreens (1)

    • 2

      natural disaster or storm >>, of course, you do whatever you can do to help your neighbors and community – with ONE huge reminder >>> DON”T BREAK YOUR OPSEC ….

      any other SHTF – you need to think about your Top Priority >>> your OWN family ….

      You have extra to share? >>> How exactly did you ascertain & determine that? – the authorities are saying SHTF recovery is a certain 3 months – you have 6 months total and can help another unprepared family totally or percentage that 3 months out among multi-families ….

      All well & good !!! – righteous plan – except the recovery didn’t come – tangent SHTFs occurred and it’s now almost an unpredictable recovery timetable ….

      and – you got almost impossibly lucky – that family you shared kept OPSEC with you and didn’t reveal your well-laid larder >>> they did the impossible – watched their 100s of extended family members and friends go hungry – didn’t start a mob rush to your home or get it raided by an armed gang …. 

      in a starving situation – you’ll be handing out the equal to gold bars or scattering $1,000 bills to the wind >>> at least try to understand human nature …

      face facts – you can’t help everyone – and helping anyone without breaking OPSEC and revealing your prepper pat hand is almost impossible ….

      • 1

        IMO, the best way to keep OPSEC is to wait until the crisis is full blown before helping others.  If folks are still able to drive around… it is too early.  

        Who knows when there will be help or a recovery?  Worst case situation is there isn’t either.  That is why if you prep for a long term event, becoming self sufficient is critical.  Group security, garden seed & gardening knowhow are as critical as stored food.