‘Street Proof’ Backpacks Offered to Metro Vancouver Homeless
750 custom backpacks feature built-in rain gear, reflective straps and anti-theft measures
Vancouver, B.C. — Just when Kevin Toth thought life couldn’t get worse, he was hit again. The Vancouver homeless man was just getting ‘back on his feet’ and returning to work when his backpack – and work gear inside – was stolen.
“It hit me pretty hard, like ‘why is this happening?’” Says Toth. “I bought new work boots, set myself up for work again, to have that stolen…it was hard.”
Toth is one of hundreds who will receive a new backpack next week when Chicago-based Citypak Project, Union Gospel Mission and Wolfe Auto Group partner to distribute more than 750 ‘street proof’ bags across Metro Vancouver. The custom-built backpacks are specifically designed for life on the street, featuring a built-in rain poncho, compression straps for bedding, reflective straps, durable material and anti-theft loops.
“My vision was to provide a useful, high-quality backpack for the homeless that would make life on the streets of Chicago a bit easier,” says Citypak Project Founder Ron Kaplan. “We’re thrilled to be expanding our outreach to Vancouver.”
The bags will be distributed by Union Gospel Mission & Wolfe Auto Group to five organizations across Metro Vancouver, including shelters in the Downtown Eastside, New Westminster and Surrey.
“These bags are as ‘street proof’ as they can get and that’s huge,” says UGM spokesperson Jeremy Hunka. “Sometimes a bag is all our guests need to start moving forward. They can walk into a job interview without carrying plastic bags. They can sleep in confidence. Sometimes a bag holds your whole world, and it should be protected.”
“It’ll be very beneficial…it’ll give you a sense of security on a cold night,” says Kevin Toth. “To feel like you’re secure, like you’re not going to get hit by a car, like nobody is going to take your bag.”
Media are welcome to attend UGM as bags are loaded into vehicles and distributed in the Downtown Eastside. A select few recipients will be available for interviews along with UGM, Citypak Project and Wolfe Auto Group.
Date: Monday, November 21st
Time: 10:00 – 10:30
Where: Union Gospel Mission, 601 East Hastings
Senior PR Specialist, Union Gospel Mission
Cell: (604) 996-1417
The CITYPAK Project has distributed more than 35,000 backpacks across North America in 80+ cities across North America like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Founded by Chicago businessman and philanthropist Ron Kaplan, CITYPAK provides a safe, convenient and versatile backpack uniquely designed to meet the constantly changing needs of the homeless population. Find out more at www.citypak.org.
ABOUT WOLFE AUTO GROUP
In its present form since 1989, Wolfe Auto Group represents Mitsubishi, Subaru and Mazda out of four retail locations throughout the Lower Mainland. Annual sales exceed $100 million, and over 4,000 units new and used. Wolfe represents the top sales people in BC for each of its three brands. With Wolfe, you’re not just buying a car – you’re joining the family!
ABOUT UNION GOSPEL MISSION
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for more than 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides emergency shelter, meals, safe housing, alcohol and drug recovery, career development counseling and education to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild lives and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.