I have been to Cuba 4 times since 2008 and have learned a lot about the people there. While most of my articles about Cuba focus on how to enjoy your vacation while there, this one will focus on the people, particularly what they need and what would be appreciated if you donated it. The Cuban people are generally quite upbeat and content with life but you can see they have a definite need for certain items there. If you have any items that you wish to give away, consider giving them away on your next trip to Cuba rather than to a local charity.
Specific items they need are:
1. Clothing. This seems to be tops on the list. Clothing is very expensive and out of reach for many people of Cuba, particularly the rural area dwellers and villagers. If you have anything that you don't plan on wearing, give it to them and they will proudly wear it. Even if it is clothing that isn't appropriate to the person you are giving it to, they can still trade it with other locals for clothes that fit or give it to family members.
2. Cell Phones and other small electonics. I am not sure what it is, but the people go nuts over cell phones. I assume their network must be better than what I'd expect over there. Maybe they use them to contact family members or friends in the United States since email and internet access is sparse, slow and many sites are blocked by the government and mail delivered outside of the country isn't reliable. If you have an old cell phone, bring it along the next time to give away to one lucky person (who will likely share with his neighbours).
3. Toys. Toys for their children are in demand.
4. Toiletries. Simple things like toothpaste and deoderant is quite expensive for Cubans. You can leave those items behind once you leave the resort. Keep in mind if you leave them for the maids, they likely get enough of that stuff from other people already. The landscapers or people who don't work at the resort will be in greater need of these items.
5. Food from the resort. People are provided with staples like rice, they can fish for seafood and can live off of the land for fruits and vegetables. However, the government owns the animals so they don't have free will over them and may go long periods of time without eating meat, especially beef and chicken. This is particularly the case for the entertainers and landscapers at the resort. The kitchen workers and bartenders all have access to the food. You probably don't want to drag food off the resort to give away to people but if you do they will likely be very grateful.
Refer to my other articles on travelling in Cuba if you are interested in information about:
General information on vacationing in Cuba
How to get through Cuban customs
How to get the best deal for your Cuban trip
How to have a relaxing vacation in Cuba
How to have a party vacation in Cuba
Good Cuban products and souvenirs