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Custom Designed Backpacks For The Homeless

Homeless Connect Toronto, High Sierra Canada and The CITYPAK Project distribute custom-designed backpacks to local homeless in need. The most recent distribution took place in partnership with Homeless Connect Toronto on Sunday, October 30, 2017 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre at Ryerson University (former Maple Leaf Gardens). Over 80 different community agencies and organizations came together as part of Homeless Connect Toronto's one-stop shop event to serve Toronto's homeless. Dozens of free services were provided including housing support, employment counseling, a clothing bank, legal aid, dental screening, foot care, chiropractic services, eye care, library cards, and haircuts- all to promote the dignity and autonomy of a population without safe and secure homes. 

Designed by CITYPAK's exclusive manufacturing partner High Sierra, the custom backpacks provide a secure place for displaced citizens to hold their belongings, and feature a spacious main compartment for a large amount of items, a hide-away poncho designed to keep both the bag and its wearer dry, a ballistic nylon outer shell strong enough to combat the elements, a synch-top closure for extra waterproofing and anti-theft measures. High Sierra and the Chicago-based CITYPAK Project have partnered to design and distribute backpacks to the homeless since 2012.

CITYPAK Founder Ron Kaplan explains, "Giving away backpacks isn't the solution to the complex issue of homelessness facing our country, but it's something we can do to make a small difference for people in this difficult situation."

Today,The CITYPAK Project encourages its local distribution partners in each city to create programs that use the donated CITYPAKs as incentives for their homeless clients. The programs use a voucher system that trades program participation for a CITYPAK, thus encouraging homeless in need to more fully engage with organizations and better utilize the resources available to them.

Recognized by media including The Toronto Star, CTV, CityTVCNN "New Day", MSNBC, Huffington Post, and many others,The CITYPAK Project has distributed over 36,000 backpacks in North America since its inception in 2012, with additional communities being added each month. November 8th marked the first time CityPaks were distributed in Canada. According to the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, there are an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people that are homeless in Canada, and 1 in 7 Canadians lives in poverty (Stats Can).

The public can also donate at www.citypak.org.

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About The CITYPAK Project:

The CITYPAK Project is a not-for-profit philanthropic organization that works to provide custom designed backpacks to homeless persons in need. Working with exclusive manufacturing partner High Sierra, by the end of 2015 The CITYPAK Project will have distributed over 21,000 CITYPAKs to homeless throughout the United States, including Chicago, IL; New York, NY; St. Louis, MO; Austin, Texas; San Jose and Venice, CA; Portland, OR; Madison, WI; Columbia, SC: Boulder, CO; Maui, HI; and many others. Founded by Chicago businessman and philanthropist Ron Kaplan in 2012, The CITYPAK Project provides a safe, convenient and versatile backpack uniquely designed to meet the constantly changing needs of the homeless. Inspired by the simple desire to create something that would make life on the streets of Chicago a little easier, Kaplan shared his idea with the design team at the international adventure travel gear manufacturer High Sierra. Today, with the help of High Sierra and a growing list of corporate and individual donors and a variety of local and regional non-profit partners, The CITYPAK Project distributes CITYPAKs in growing list of cities across the U.S. The ongoing goal: to design and provide a useful, high quality backpack for the homeless. www.citypak.org

About Homeless Connect Toronto:

Homeless Connect Toronto (HCT) is a non-profit organization in Toronto committed to collaborating with social service agencies, business organizations, volunteers, and the greater community to end homelessness. HCT coordinates "one-stop-shop" events to bring together essential supports and services under one roof for people at-risk or experiencing homelessness. By facilitating sustainable partnerships, HCT is dedicated to fostering a comprehensive network of services and creating greater access to existing supports and services. hctoronto.org

About High Sierra:

High Sierra designs feature-rich, versatile outdoor lifestyle gear for adventurers everywhere. Since our founding in 1978, we've committed ourselves to creating durable, affordable product with distinctive details, delivering the freedom to go anywhere-near or far, on roads or trails, on mountain ridges or snowy slopes, no matter what form your adventure takes. In 2012, High Sierra formed a design partnership with the Chicago-based CITYPAK Project [501(c)(3)] to create purposeful, utilitarian backpacks for the homeless. High Sierra is also proud to be the Official Bags supplier of Snow Sports Canada Ski and Snowboard teams. High Sierra. Adventure This Way.  www.highsierra.ca

The CITYPAK:

CITYPAK Bag

Thoughtfully designed with the needs of the homeless in mind to make everyday life on the streets easier. The CITYPAK features:

  • Ballistic nylon exterior to stand up to the elements

  • A large capacity main compartment

  • Large front and easy access side pockets

  • Comfortable shoulder straps with adjustable sternum strap

  • A waist belt for back support

  • An integrated rain poncho to protect the pack and the wearer

  • Theft deterrent webbing loops that allow the pack to be secured safely to its wearer

  • Bottom webbing loops for bedroll, jacket, blanket, etc

  • A buckle, Velcro, and cinch-top combo closure for added security

  • Reflective webbing loop for safety

  • Interior document pocket for important papers

  • Discretely placed logo