Backpack Care Package Program Grows Ten-Fold Since 2015 Start
Nurses and health care professionals have successfully turned Black Friday into Backpack Friday—a tradition of giving to the homeless families of downtown LA’s Skid Row neighborhood. Backpack Friday distributed care packages on Nov. 29, 2019, for the fifth year in a row.
On a day known for shoppers caught in an ad-fueled frenzy for holiday gifts, Backpack Friday is all about passing out backpack care packages full of blankets, gloves, socks, hygiene supplies and other essentials to the most vulnerable people in our community.
Alexis Goudeau, RN, BSN, founded the tradition after driving past people living on the street on the way to her nursing shifts at Kaiser Permanente. The work has grown from handing out 100 backpacks in 2015 to the homeless services organization Highly Favored: A Blessing to Others. This year, more than 1,000 backpacks were handed out.
“The things we often take for granted, others pray for,” says Goudeau. “There are more than 58,000 homeless on the streets of Los Angeles, enough to fill Dodger Stadium. An astonishing 130,000 men, women and children are homeless in the state of California. As a society, we spend millions of dollars per year providing temporary assistance instead of permanent assistance to those who are less fortunate.”
Earlier this year, Goudeau appeared at the Commonwealth Club of California‘s Thought Leadership series to discuss with state and national leaders how to grapple with some of the highest costs of housing and highest rates of homelessness of our time. The late Kaiser CEO Bernard J. Tyson attended and recognized Goudeau for her work, particularly the annual Backpack Friday.
More than 100 volunteers included registered nurses and other health care professionals, members of UFCW Local 1428, and others working with the homeless services organization that Goudeau founded, Highly Favored: A Blessing to Others
Highly Favored: A Blessing to Others organizes the annual Thanksgiving drive called Backpack Friday to distribute backpack care packages to less-fortunate individuals throughout Los Angeles County. According to the 2019 homeless count, there are more than 58,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County. Highly Favored strives to provide essential items including water, snacks, blankets, which are made possible by the generosity of our donors, from large contributions down to smaller donations of even one dollar bills, which together play a vital role enabling Highly Favored to make it all happen. For ways to volunteer or donate throughout the year, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The 1,000 backpacks given to homeless people this year were filled with hygiene supplies and other essentials, including blankets, water, socks, baby wipes, soap, shampoo, toothbrush/toothpaste, beanies, gloves, socks, toiletries, feminine hygiene supplies, snacks and a list of area resources for the homeless.
KABC7’s Miriam Hernandez files a moving report on the impact of homelessness on heath and well-being: https://abc7.com/society/skid-row-woman-turns-to-temporary-shelter-amid-harsh-weather/5727372/
— Miriam Hernandez (@abc7miriam) November 29, 2019
United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) represents more than 32,000 registered nurses and other health care professionals, including optometrists; pharmacists; physical, occupational and speech therapists; case managers; nurse midwives; social workers; clinical lab scientists; physician assistants and nurse practitioners. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.