Take care of yourselves while you take care of others.

COVID-19 Rescue Packets

April 3, 2020

Friends, the homeless backpack projects around our country and the world are well-positioned to help many people during this medical pandemic emergency.  We know how to get supplies into the hands of those who need them the most and we can do this with no risk to ourselves or the public if we follow published social distancing guidelines.

The most important element in fighting this virus besides distancing is personal hygiene.  Homeless backpack projects have always emphasized hygiene products in our offerings and we can keep this momentum going by concentrating on these products in our distribution.

A word about distribution:  We, as project workers, must remain safe and healthy as our first priority, otherwise we cannot help anyone else and we create personal risk for ourselves, our families and any others around us.  This requires modifying our habits and constantly reassessing the way we communicate with people and deal with the public.

Many communities are under lockdown or other orders to stay home.  This must be obeyed, for the safety of everyone.  However, most people do have to occasionally venture out for their own resupply of food, medicines, household goods, etc.  If done safely, supplies can be given to our homeless friends along the way during necessary outings without endangering ourselves or them.

What do the homeless need now:  Obviously nothing has changed in the needs of those who have almost nothing but priorities have changed.  Also, our ability to acquire goods for our backpacks and the packs themselves have changed since we cannot go out into our communities.  If you are experiencing these problems, I recommend you shift your focus to distributing as much PERSONAL HYGIENE supplies as possible.

I feel help in staying clean is the greatest gift we can give people right now.  I have many times received thanks from people to whom I’ve given backpacks, particularly for the hygiene supplies inside.  It’s always hard for the homeless to keep clean and harder if they don’t have soap, toothbrushes and tooth paste and the other essentials they need.  Let’s solve that problem.

I am making up as many hygiene rescue packets as I can, in 1-gallon Ziploc bags and placing them on the ground, at a safe distance, then gaining the attention of the recipient with a discreet horn beep.  This can be done from the safety of your car, with the window rolled up.  Before you get the attention of the recipient, open your car door, place the packet by the side of the road (do not impede traffic), beep your horn to get their attention, point to your packet and drive away. They will pick the packet up.  MAKES SURE YOU ARE HEALTHY AND THE PACKETS ARE CLEAN. Always maintain a safe distance.  I know this is not the ‘friendly’ thing to do but we are helping everyone if we do not intermingle with each other.

    I am making up hygiene packages in 1-gallon plastic bags with the following ingredients:

    *Soap bars – extra here, 3 or 4 (plus an extra smaller Ziploc for used bars)
    Microfiber washcloth
    Toothbrush and tooth paste
    Hair brush
    Tampons (3)
    Nail clippers
    Hair ties
    Hand sanitizer packets
    (The following can be given out in a separate plastic or paper bag as they will not fit in a 1-gallon Ziploc.)
    Toilet paper, small roll
    Laundry soap, small bottle

I am also including a COVID-19 Data Sheet indicating the CDC’s (Center For Disease Control) guidelines for cleanliness during this pandemic (one sheet, printed front and back if possible).  Links to this document are here:


Microsoft Word® Document

Adobe PDF® Document

I do not recommend putting liquid alcohol or bleach in your offering as there is a lot of substance abuse among the homeless as well as malfeasance and we cannot be responsible for how these items might be used or misused.

Take care of yourselves while you take care of others.

Best wishes and maintained good health,

David Goldberg
Homeless Backpack Network Logo