UPDATE: Homeless Backpack Care Kits

We recently received an update from Susan Cancro who came to speak to us back in February at SoupGrant. We’re very excited to have this partnership with Advent House and to participate in our community in this way. If you haven’t heard about our backpack project, this video will give you a basic overview – this project is still ongoing, by the way, so if you have something you would like to contribute, we invite you to bring it with you to SoupGrant on June 19!

Susan shared two specific stories with us in her e-mail.

First of all, two stories of how needed the backpacks are:

One man came to us after spending several months living place to place and under a bridge for much of the time because he didn’t want to be in a shelter (we have since convinced him to use the resources in the system and he is sheltered now). He was overjoyed at having the backpack, which he immediately used, as he transferred his clothing and important papers from a tattered, smelly backpack he had been using. He also put the personal needs items to use making himself feel “like a human being again” (he said).  A homeless woman came to us though our employment program and needing the new backpack, as well as the personal needs items, especially the feminine products.

We also got some feedback on what’s worked well and what we could rethink as we put together more backpacks in the future.

Overall they loved having the backpack itself (always useful as they wear out backpacks quickly). They also were so happy to receive the personal needs items–deodorant, toothpaste/brush, razors, feminine products, soap and facecloth, etc.; these items can be hard to come by on a regular basis.  Regarding the food items, they had some suggestions–the drinks were great, but some food items either didn’t stand up well to being in the backpack and moved around–such as crackers that would begin to crumble–or food items that were hard to eat–particularly a problem with things that are difficult to bite if a person has bad teeth, which is a common problem among our guests.  I’ll be talking with others on my staff this week to see if there are more stories or additional feedback for the project.

If you have anything you would like to contribute, let us know or bring it in on June 19! If you would like to put together a whole backpack yourself, that’s great. If you would like to bring in an empty, gently-used backpack or items that can be used to stuff a backpack, that’s just as important!

See you June 19!

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