2,000 CITYPAKs distributed in October

The SBK Foundation and High Sierra Sport Co. announce The CITYPAK Project — an initiative designed to assist people who live on the street by giving them the equipment to keep their personal belongings safe.

During the second week in October, 2,000 specially-designed backpacks were distributed free of charge to homeless youths and adults across Chicago. 

The first distribution was Oct. 9, during a weekly Loop dinner hosted by Catholic Charities, 721 N. LaSalle St. Distributions continued through Friday, Oct. 12, working with service providers that help people living on the street.

These included:

* Evening outreach by The Night Ministry on Wed., Oct. 10 (7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Wilson & Hazel; 8:30-9:30 p.m. at Howard & Damen) and to youth on Thurs., Oct. 11 (8:30 p.m., in Lakeview).

* Also, on Thurs., Oct. 11 (7 p.m.) at a soup kitchen run by Franciscan Outreach Association, 1645 W. Lemoyne

* Friday, Oct. 12 (4:30 p.m.) at Hope House of Chicago, 3351 W. Roosevelt Road.

CCH Executive Director Ed Shurna assisted the project with design plans, including a pre-design focus group involving homeless men and women. The city of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services also assisted.

The CITYPAK Project was founded by SBK’s Ron Kaplan, a lifelong Chicagoan and co-founder of the music agency Monterey International. Constantly seeing people juggling plastic bags and battered suitcases, it occurred to Kaplan that a major issue for people living on the streets was the ability to obtain equipment that would help them keep their personal belongings safe and help combat life-threatening conditions.

Kaplan shared his idea with Hank Bernbaum, former president of Chicago-based High Sierra Sport Company, which creates many different types of travel gear. After sharing his idea, Kaplan was invited to tour the High Sierra headquarters and meet with designer Mike Angelini. The goal: to design a backpack that features numerous compartments for carrying a large quantity of items, is outfitted with a rain poncho that fits over both the wearer and the bag, and an anti-theft device that keeps the bag tethered to the wearer.

It is SBK’s hope to grow CITYPAK statewide, and eventually involve the American community at large with donating and distributing more CITYPAKs beyond the initial 2,000 allotted for this fall.

Nine agencies assisted with distributions: Broadway Youth Center, Catholic Charities, Franciscan Outreach, Haymarket Center, Hope House of Chicago, Salvation Army, Sarah’s Circle, The Night Ministry and Thresholds.

The SBK Foundation is a Kaplan family organization, active since 1990. CITYPAK is the latest addition to an extensive list of outreach programs and initiatives that include funding for CCH, Habitat for Humanity’s Musicians Village in NOLA, MusiCares, Rock for Kids and Camp Heartland.

For more information on the project, visit www.citypak.org